Implications for India in the ‘next-year’ Russia-Ukraine war


By Haider Abbas

It is now only a week to go to make for the first anniversary of the Russian-Ukraine war. The whole world is right now agog with reports of Ukraine foreign fighters and Ukraine’s brutality to them!  What would surely shock the world, is how Ukraine has shown utmost brutality, that too, towards the foreign fighters who had fought from its own side. A report published in The Local Report 1 says that ‘ Ukraine’s horrific act on the battlefield against its foreign mercenaries comes to light. Russian Investigative Committee Chief Alexander Bastrykin said in an interview with TASS that Kyiv is committing “blood-curdling crimes” against its mercenaries to conceal their identities. Several bodies without hands or heads have been found in the zone of Russia’s special military operation, and they were identified as Polish mercenaries thanks to smartphone records.’


This shocking revelation has come apart from reports of the most-rampant-corruption, throughput the war, from Ukraine, out of the billions of USD given by European Union and US to counter Russia. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had to sack his Defense Minister Oleksii Reznilov, over corruption charges.  There are also reports, published in News.Sky 2 about mercenaries, the largest from Georgia, US and England fighting for Ukraine too.  This Ukrainian horrific brutality, when it is now almost one year of war, has sent shockwaves throughout the world, as Ukraine has done everything to conceal the identity of its foreign mercenaries. Their heads and hands have been cut! This had come after Wagner Group, a private army in Russia, had revealed about it, as Russia had made advances in Bakhmut region in Ukraine. It is estimated that Ukraine is likely to retreat from Bakhmut as the war first anniversary comes.

Meanwhile, Wagner Group, is getting considered to be the bulwark of Russian forces against Ukraine. Wagner Group is a private militia, which has helped Russia to capture key Ukraine cities, like in Donetsk town in Bakhmut. Its founder is Yevgeny Prigozhin has sent a ‘dread’ inside whole of Europe and US as the fear that soon Wagner Group might become a global challenge to the West, unlike what is portrayed as future ‘threat to Russia’ by the West. The success Of Wagner Group, particularly in East Ukraine, has galvanized the popular imagination inside Russia, as a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ramzan Kadyrov, a Chechenyen leader, who has been with Putin, from the very onset of war, has signaled that he would also try to raise a private army on the lines of Wagner Group. Kadyrov has been ‘quite impressed’ by the success of Wagner significant role into turning the tables in favour of Russia and has called that such private-armies are now a necessity for the future wars. Perhaps, India also has taken the cue to raise the future private-armies by way of Agniveer? May be yes.

Ironically, both Kadyrov and Prigozhin who are staunch allies of Russia, have also been critical of Russian military leadership, calling for more vigorous prosecution of the conflict. Kadyrov forces are reportedly making big inroads into Ukraine Luhasank region and a strategic height Bilohorivka has been surrounded by the Chechen fighters. This has brought Russia in a very commanding position, particularly when the war nears its one-year-mark. The world is looking at the high-perch Russia stands today, hence, Donetsk and Luhansk regions are now almost under Russian control, which has made Kadyrov euphoric that Chechen fighters, from the Akhmat Command Unit, have now started to sway their command over the ‘very important and strategic height’ on the outskirts of Bilohorivka, during which Kadyrov forces have taken over 5 kms of terrain, and also an approach to the railroad leading to Seversk, which has given a high impetus, in the frontline areas. It is likely that Moscow, after the help from Chechen warriors, is all set to register a win in the Bakhmut, the administrative center of Donetsk. No wonder Russian President Vladimir Putin, has time and again, lauded the Chechen ‘exceptional-valour’ in the campaign against Ukraine. This has resulted in renewed strafe from the Russian side as the war comes to its one year time.

There are now also reports that Belarus, one of the most formidable ally of Putin, has decided to send 1.5 lakh soldiers to Russia to join the spring-offensive, informed India Today 3! The Belarusian Defense Minister Major General Viktor Khrenin has confirmed it, in the wake of US President Joseph Biden surprise visit to Kyiv on February 20. This is what signals that it is likely to lead towards more-escalation of war, while US and EU, continue to supply huge arms to Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russia. May be the potentialities of this war, leading towards use-of-nuclear weapons is now getting moiré and more rife. Interestingly, wjat matters here is to notify that the formation of this new people’s militia in Belarus coincides with Kyiv’s hiring of foreign fighters to counter the Russians, Belarus is the closet Russian ally. It has already allowed its territory to be used by the Russians. It will bring the worst fears true if Belarus is dragged into the conflict, which of course West wants, as that would signal, the war is not going for end any time soon.

No sooner did Biden return from his five hours visit to Ukraine, Russia has spiraled its rocket-attack with heavy bombardment on the line of contact with Ukraine, as Putin seems to be clearly enraged by Zelenskky-Biden unannounced meeting amidst the war. There has been almost ‘now a rain of non-stop rocket fire’ on Ukraine which has decimated the Ukrainian arms units in many cities. In the backdrop of this hurricane of rocket-rain Putin is set to address the nation on the one-year war. Thus, the stage for the next is now set.

What however, are now implications for India? Particularly, when US and Ukraine have ‘warned China to not to arm Russia’ as Zelenskky has cited that it would bring the third-world-war. But, it can easily be deduced that China in this long year has stood by Russia and it is only officially that China joins from the Russian side, as on the very onset of the war, during the Beijing winter Olympics in February 2022, China and Russia had decided to fight-each-other wars.

In case there is a conflict of China and India, where are to be Russian priorities is the big question? India will certainly look for US support and Russia support too, as conflict with China and India is already in the Himalayas and with China and US in South China Sea over Taiwan. The outcome of Russia-Ukraine war, therefore,  in the coming next year will be the most keenly watched event in the world, in terms of ‘geo-political interests of nations’ and India is very much to be involved in it.


The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and writes on international issues.

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3-      3- Belarus to form nearly 1,50,000 strong volunteer military force


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