The current Ukraine crisis stems from Putin’s determination to make the altered military realities count on the ground in Europe. As Prof Mearsheimer says, Putin is seeking to change the entire post-cold-war security architecture in Europe and enforce a Monroe doctrine variant. He is seeking written guarantees for the non-inclusion of Ukraine in NATO and assurances about the non-stationing of offensive weapons in the countries drafted into NATO in the last two decades. Towards this end, he has forward deployed some 1,90,000 troops around Ukraine. Next, he went ahead and recognized the breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in a clear escalatory move that underlines his determination but were Donetsk and Luhansk his red lines? What are his military options in case diplomacy fails to deliver on his red lines? NATO and US have already refused to give written assurances and asserted that Ukraine as a sovereign state has the right to choose its form of government and what treaties it will join. This amounts to a deadlock and if talks break down, what will a military invasion of Ukraine look like? There are primarily three options:
President Biden should seize the diplomatic initiative with a Grand Strategic and Comprehensive bargain for enhancing European securityFirst batch of Indian students holding the national flag before leaving for the Ukraine-Romania border from Chernivtsi, on Friday. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Camp Offices are now operational in Lviv and Chernivtsi towns in western Ukraine. ANIJohn Mearsheimer on Russia Insights and RecommendationsThe US and EU are threatening to shut down the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project if Russia invades UkraineAs the fighting intensifies what options does the West have to help Ukraine?
The Ukraine scenario today is remarkably similar to the situation in Georgia in 2008. Like Abkhazia and Ossetia, the two Russian-speaking states of Donetsk and Luhansk have separatists in full-scale revolt. Russia has also sent in its troops in Mufti inside. Firing incidents have started on the borders of these two provinces. Russia has already recognized its independence and troops have started moving in. In this option, Russian troops would move beyond the Line of Contact to the border of these provinces. So, a Georgian redux style operation could see the occupation of and escalation in these two districts. While troops from Donbas are engaging Ukrainian troops on the border frontally, Russian forces from Crimea would hit them in the rear. This would consolidate the occupation of these two provinces and certain other territories to give tactical depth to these states.
LIMITED WAR OPTION
What happens next will depend on how Ukraine responds militarily. Any significant military response would provide the pretext/justification for an invasion. There are two options – limited war or full-scale offensive. Limited war would see Russian forces from the East making a dash for Kharkov (former capital of Ukraine). Forces from Crimea would advance upon the port city of Mariupol. Naval landings could be mounted to seize the port city of Odessa. Thus, Ukraine would be cut off from the sea and become a landlocked country dependent on Russia. This option entails fighting in built-up areas to secure cities and capturing and holding ground. This can cause heavy casualties and take a lot of time as cities can be defended street by street.
Prof Mearsheimer, a noted political scientist of the University of Chicago, feels that Russia’s aim is not to seize and defend territory in Ukraine (as it could get bogged down in an Afghanistan-like quagmire). The Russian aim is simply to either wreck Ukraine as a functional state or ensure regime change. Towards this end, this could unfold with massive cyber-attacks and electronic warfare strikes to paralyse communications. The Russians would rapidly gain air and naval supremacy and commence operations with massive airstrikes, cruise missiles and tactical ballistic missile strikes. Massive artillery suppressive fires will be used to destroy anti-tank missiles and shoulder-fired SAMs.
The main attack will come from Belarus and aim straight for Kiev – the capital city. Key command and control centres (Presidential palace, Ministries of Defense and Interior, Parliament, etc) would be knocked out. Concurrently, forces from the East would go for Kharkov and the breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. Naval landings would seek to seize the port cities of Odesa and Mariupol. It would be a swift blitzkrieg-style operation that will encircle and bypass major centres of resistance and inflict heavy damage by air and missile strikes and heavy fire assaults. The aim would be not to capture and hold Ukrainian territory but wreck Ukraine as a functional state. The operation should not last more than a week or 10 days. At the end of it, Russians could declare a unilateral ceasefire and withdraw from most of the Ukrainian territory less the districts of Donetsk and Luhansk which will now be independent states.
One view is that since whichever option is adopted, US and West will impose economic sanctions. Russia might prefer a massive full-scale option to impose regime change in Kiev. That would highlight Russian military power and capacity and would deter any further adventurism against Russia. West has imposed only the first tranche of graded sanctions yet and is waiting to see the option Russia will take finally. Will Russia be satisfied with just the breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk (which were never its stated) red lines? Or will it go for limited or full-scale invasion? It all depends on the risk-taking appetite of Putin.
WESTERN OPTIONS NEEDED FOR A STRATEGIC RESPONSE
So far, western nations have stated that crippling economic sanctions would be imposed and have rushed token forces to other East European states that have earlier joined NATO. Economic sanctions could include:
• Close Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline- This incidentally would cause enormous economic losses to Germany also. Nevertheless, this has been done.
• Impose blocking sanctions on large Russian banks, energy and defense companies and energy projects.
• Sanctions on Russian oligarchs and their families
• Impose restrictions on secondary markets in Russian bonds
• Exclude Russia from the SWIFT global electronic payment system based in Belgium. This would be a last resort option.
Writing on the 11th February issue of the Foreign Affairs Magazine, Michael Mc Faul has made the eminently reasonable suggestion that USA should not respond knee jerk and tactically by offering defensively minimal concessions to stave off the crisis. Instead, President Biden should seize the diplomatic initiative with a Grand Strategic and Comprehensive bargain for enhancing European security. This would be analogous to the Helsinki accord. This would resuscitate and amend defunct Arms control Agreements and provide the bigger framework of European security of which Ukraine per se, would only be a sub-set. The USA has low strategic stakes in Ukraine and is playing a losing hand.
A number of respected American pundits of geo-politics (include Henry Kissinger, Prof Mearsheimer, and Stephen P. Cohen) have been advising America to not drive Russia into Chinese arms and not take on these two major powers together. Kissinger had said: “It should be settled maxim of US foreign policy never to take on more than one major Asian power at a time.”
China is the real peer competitor of the USA in the long term. It has almost matching economic power and is fast catching up in military power. It will prove to be far more dangerous than Russia could ever be with its economic constraints. It would be prudent for America to designate its main threat clearly. If it is China, it makes eminent strategic sense to seek détente with one while going full steam to contain the other. Nixon had done that by a détente with Mao’s China when USSR was the main threat. Today, the situation is reversed and a détente with Russia makes eminent sense. It will allow the USA and the West to focus their energies upon China. The desire to take on China and Russia together sounds macho but is highly unrealistic. Given Biden’s disastrous performance against Afghanistan, the world should be forgiven for being somewhat sceptical. That however is the problem. Only a self-assured and confident leader would refrain from knee-jerk, tactical responses and think strategically and long term. Where monthly popularity ratings decide responses, it would be overly optimistic to expect such a clear-headed response from President Biden. Post-Afghanistan, he has little room for manoeuvre.
The author is a retired military veteran. This article was written in association with www.imr media.in just before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine started.
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Major push to Make in India in defence sector
To give a major push to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atamanirbhar Bharat mission, the Indian Army has joined hands with various technology firms to cater to the demands of the present security scenario.
The Army says if it has to remain operational all around, it cannot rely on obsolete technology hence latest advancement in the sector have to be adopted.
“The Northern Command is always combat ready in the times to come, the challenges will continue to increase so we have to rely on advance technology and keep on innovating,” Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi told The Daily Guardian on the sidelines of the Northern Technology Symposium held in Udhampur on Sunday.
North Tech Symposium was organized under the aegis of HQ Northern Command at Udhampur. Technology symposium, exhibition was organised wherein 162 companies from Indian defence industry including MSMEs, DRDO, DPSU, participated and exhibited their products.
In addition, 42 innovative solutions by Army establishments towards enhancement of combat potential of the Army were also on display. Lt Gen BS Raju, Vice Chief of Army Staff inaugurated the first of its kind technology symposium in Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing the event, vice-chief of Army staff Lt Gen V S Raju said that he would have appreciated if the investors, capital ventures would have also shown interest in the event to boost the new start-up.
“To cope up with the ever-evolving and ever-changing security scenario, we also need to adopt changes and keep on innovating. I am happy that so many companies have shown interest to showcase their products at the North Tech Symposium. I am hopeful that in near future, many of the products would be put in use by the armed forces,” General Raju said.
In the wake of recent incidence of drone dropping in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab from across the Indo-Pak border, various companies have displayed their products including anti- drone system, drone jammer which can strengthen the forces and border guarding forces to thwart Pakistan’s plan of disturbing peace.
Other than drone dropping threats, detection of tunnels on Jammu and Kashmir border is also a major threat for the security forces these days as 11 tunnels have been detected on Indian-Pakistan border in the past few years. There was number of companies which showcased their products to detect underground tunnels by using artificial intelligence and special radar.
The symposium saw active participation from of senior officers from different forces including IDS, Army HQ, HQ ARTRAC, other Commands, HQ Northern Command, and its subordinate formations. This interactive platform for knowledge diffusion through Joint Army-Industry participation was an important step in the direction of the government’s initiative of “Make in India”.
On the first day of the seminar, the participants from Army and industry discussed the policy and procedures for expeditious procurement, Raksha Atmanirbharta initiatives by Indian Army, DRDO and Defence Public Sector Undertakings, how can private sector contribute towards surveillance system, weapon sights, drones and counter drone system and miscellaneous technologies like 3D printing.
The symposium served to showcase cutting edge technologies and innovative products providing solutions to some of the complex challenges faced by the security forces in Northern Command and also acted as an ideal platform for mutual exchange of ideas between the domestic defence industry and the Army. The technologies and products on display covered a wide canvas, the prominent ones being surveillance and situational awareness, tactical mobility, firepower, force protection, communications, combat medical facility, robotics and simulators.
The symposium was a huge success and Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, AVSM lauded the initiative and innovations of all the vendors. The General Officer expressed his conviction that the plethora of technologies available indigenously can further boost the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” project of the nation. The spirit of Atmanirbharta demands that research and development, the domestic defence industry and Army have work in a synchronized manner to realise the nation’s vision.
ARMY MAJOR SUCCUMBS TO INJURIES DURING OPERATION IN KASHMIR
An Indian Army Major lost his life after slipping into a ravine during a counter-infiltration operation in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.
Late Major Raghunath Ahlawat, 34 was leading his team on a counter-infiltration operation based on reliable intelligence input. “To identify a safe approach for the team he led from the front while carrying out reconnaissance on a route through a steep cliff. “Unfortunately, he slipped due to bad weather and slippery conditions and fell 60 meters into a ravine. Critically injured, he succumbed to his injuries enroute while being evacuated to the nearest Army Hospital,” Indian Army officials said in a statement.
The Army paid tribute to the officer in a ceremony held in the Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar led by Chinar Corps Commander Lieutenant General DP Pandey.
Major Ahlawat was commissioned into the Army in 2012 and hails from Dwarka, New Delhi and is survived by his wife and his parents.
The mortal remains of Late Maj Raghunath Ahlawat were taken for last rites to his native place, where he would be laid to rest with full military honours.
FOR 114 FIGHTER JETS, IAF FAVOURS ‘BUY GLOBAL MAKE IN INDIA’ ROUTE
For over USD 20 billion tender for manufacturing 114 multi-role fighter aircraft (MRFA) the Indian Air Force (IAF) would prefer to take the ‘Buy Global Make in India’ route over the strategic partnership policy model to produce the planes within the country.
‘Buy Global Make in India’ is a category of procurement process provided in the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 under Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to smoothen the acquisition of foreign weapon systems and their production within the country under the ‘Make in India’ in the defence programme. Along with the indigenous LCA Tejas and the 5th Generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft project, the 114 MRFA project would also be required by the IAF to maintain an edge over both the Northern and Western adversaries. We would prefer to go in for the Buy Global Make in India route which is preferred by the vendors also who are expected to take part in the programme, government sources said. Three American aircraft including the F-18, F-15 and F-21 (modified version of the F-16), Russian Mig-35 and Su-35 along with the French Rafale, Swedish Saab Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft are expected to participate in the programme. The Indian Air Force had also sought the views of these companies on the acquisition procedure that they would like to opt for in the programme and most of them have shown a preference for the Buy Global Make in India route only, they said.
The sources said that the force has also sought directions from the government on the project.
INDIA GETS DEFENCE SUPPLIES FROM RUSSIA, BUT PAYMENT MAY BECOME AN ISSUE
Amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, defence supplies from Moscow are continuing as the Indian defence forces have received a shipment of overhauled aircraft engines and spares. However, there is concern about whether this would continue in the near future as a solution for making payment to Russia has not yet been found.
“The defence forces have received shipments from the Russians very recently and it is still on. So far, there has not been any glitch in supplies for our forces,” a government source told ANI.
“However, there are concerns on whether these supplies can continue in the same manner as the Indian side cannot make payments to these Russian firms in view of the sanctions related to their banks,” he added.
The sources said the Indian and Russian sides are working to find a way this issue can be overcome and many options are being explored.
The latest supplies from Russia included overhauled fighter aircraft engines and spares for an aircraft fleet and they arrived through the sea route, the sources said.
India also received the final parts of the S-400 Triumf air defence system from Russia whose first squadron is operational with its elements deployed to take care of threats from both Pakistan and China.
India is one of the largest users of Russian weaponry including major platforms like fighter jets, transport aircraft, helicopters, warships, tanks, infantry combat vehicles and submarines.
Over the last couple of decades, it has broadened its source base by including equipment from countries like the US, France and Israel in a big way but the dependence on Russia still remains very high.
The Air Force is dependent majorly on the Russian supplies as its mainstay Su30 aircraft fleet is Russian along with its Mi-17 helicopter fleet.
The Army is also dependent on the Russian-origin T-90 and T-72 tank fleet for the armoured regiments.
IAF, ARMY BRASS WILL ASSESS LAC SITUATION
The top brass of the Indian Army and Air Force would be assessing the preparedness of their forces and infrastructure requirements along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as the militaries of both India and China continue to remain in a standoff position in eastern Ladakh.
The Indian Air Force brass would be meeting this week from 6 April to discuss the security situation including air operations along the northern borders. The Indian Army commanders led by Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane would be assessing the present deployments along eastern Ladakh and the northeastern sectors from 18 April onwards in the bi-annual commanders’ conference.
The top brass of the Indian Army had jointly discussed the infrastructure requirements and developments required by the Indian side from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh during a conference in Lucknow recently.
India has made several changes in its deployments post aggression shown by Chinese troops in April-May 2020.
India and China have been talking to each other at both military and diplomatic levels to address the issues but so far they have not been able to do so mainly because of Chinese reluctance. In recent talks to address the Patrolling Point 15 friction, they proposed a solution that was not acceptable to the Indian side.
Indian security establishment led by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval has been of the view that the issue would be resolved only if the Chinese completely disengaged and went back to pre April 2020 positions.The Indian side has strengthened its deployments manifold all along the LAC. The Indian Air Force has also started building advanced bases in the forward areas including infrastructure to operate fighter jets and attack helicopters from the forward fields such as Nyoma.
Sharp fall in infiltration of foreign terrorists, stone pelting: CRPF DG
There has been a sharp decline in the infiltration of foreign terrorists as well as in stone-pelting incidents in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 from the erstwhile state, Director General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Kuldiep Singh said on Thursday.
However, noting the targeted killings in Jammu and Kashmir, the officer said, “Some time there is a spurt in terrorist incidents” and the recent killing in “periodic series” are among those, and “it occurs”. Replying to queries during a press briefing here at the CRPF Headquarters, Singh said, “CRPF immediately try to control terrorist incidents in Jammu and Kashmir soon after it gets inputs. These incidents are not totally controlled by internal terrorist people who are there. On many occasions, it is controlled by those sitting across the border and it is directed whom to be targeted or not.”
The CRPF DG reiterated that “some directions comes from foreign lands too”, and thus, “terrorist incidents some times increase and sometimes decrease” “It does not mean that things are out of hand…You can see that the incidents of stone-pelting are almost nil. There has been a sharp decline in the number of infiltration of foreign terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir. Sometimes, there is a spurt in terrorist incidents but it happens,” he said.
The officer informed that the CRPF has neutralized 175 terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and apprehended 183 from March 1, 2021, to March 16, 2022.
Meanwhile, the CRPF has recovered 253 arms from Jammu and Kashmir and seized 7,541 ammunition as well as 96.38 kg explosives, 23 Improvised Explosive Device (IED), 232 grenades, and 36 detonators from the Union Territory, Singh said. Further, he informed that as many as 91 encounters have taken place from March 1, 2021, to March 16 this year. CRPF is the premier Central Armed Police Force (CRPF) entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding the internal security of the country. It is deployed across the length and breadth of the country, assisting various state police in the discharge of their duties. CRPF is providing security cover to 117 protectees of various categories, he said adding that 32 women personnel have been inducted into the VIP Security Wing.
A total of 41 VIPs were provided security cover by the CRPF during recently concluded Assembly elections in five states, the DG said adding that the security of 27 protectees has been withdrawn post-elections. The CRPF chief also said that under financial assistance from the risk fund, ex-gratia for personnel martyred in action has been increased to Rs 30 lakhs from Rs 20 lakhs, and for all other cases, the ex-gratia has been increased to Rs 20 lakhs from Rs 15 lakhs.
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