Developments in Russia-Ukraine War
“…this intuition of a greater Power than our apparent selves in the workings of the world is now growing upon the race and the vast sense of an unaccomplished aim in the urge of life is driving it to an unprecedented effort of human thought and energy. In such a moment even the hugest calamities cannot exhaust the life or discourage its impetus, but rather impel it to a new élan of endeavour; for the flames of thought rise higher than the flames of the conflagration that destroys and see in it a meaning and the promise of a new creation. In the destruction that has been effected, in the void that has been left the mind sees only more room for hope to grow and a wide space that the Spirit who builds in Time has cleared for his new structure.” – Sri Aurobindo (CWSA 25, 1997, p. p. 614).
The above lines by Sri Aurobindo, written in the period between the First and the Second World Wars, are applicable in the present scenario. The situation in the Russia-Ukraine war has reached such a point wherein the inexhaustible hope and spirit of Ukrainians are standing firm against the Russian onslaught motivated by greed, ego and destruction.
Presently, the war is proceeding without any end in sight. The more this war continues, the more it is impacting and changing the world reality, reinforcing with greater certainty the complete abhorrence of the crudity with which this war was instigated. In recent weeks, the course of the war has seen many developments.
First, it has united the western world emotionally and psychologically like never before, to protect the integrity of their culture and values. Such an emotive unification is unprecedented. It has not been witnessed since the end of the Second World War. This is seen not only at the governmental levels, but more so at the level of the common citizens, who have gone in large numbers to fight the war on Ukraine’s side.
One of the most important aspects of this unity is the likely realization that the war has happened at an opportune time in history. It has awakened the western world from its gross materialistic preoccupations which were taking a turn for the worse due to advancements in technology. The fact that the war has struck at this time has made the West realize that they are, at least, well-equipped to defeat Russia. Had it taken place after few more years, it is likely that Russia would have grown far more economically and militarily powerful, and even the world situation would have changed for the worse due to its domination by the sole and exclusive technological-commercial motive. The war has, in unifying the West psychologically, checked its soulless materialistic advance towards its own doom.
Second, leading the unity of the western world, the Ukrainian spirit is at an all-time high, while Russia’s morale is extremely low. Even the Ukrainians who had fled their country in the initial stages of Russia’s invasion are coming back in large numbers to rebuild their country and contribute to its defence. The visuals of common Ukrainians taking up arms during the daytime and spending the after-hours cleaning up their cities have become very common. All these instances show how their spirit is meticulously conscious in every area of their national interest. For the world, it sets a great example of national self-giving and patriotism.
This Ukrainian spirit stands in stark contrast to the situation in Russia, where an estimated two hundred thousand people or more have left the country due to their opposition to the war (Mirovalev, 2022). While in some areas, people are supporting the war in Russia, in most cases, they are suffering from fear, economic hardship, isolation and losses. Russia’s morale is completely down, whereas Ukraine’s spirit has remained consistently high, right from the beginning of the war.
Third, there is brewing a tentative opposition to Putin within Russia also – albeit in muted voices due to fear. It is not only the people who are suffering but also, the powerful Russian elite and oligarchs – many of whom had initially supported the war – are now turning against the war, due to the hardship, national humiliation and excesses it is imposing on Russia itself. Such a backlash by the Russian elite is uncommon. These include sanctioned billionaires Mikhail Fridman – the founder of Russia’s largest private bank and one of the country’s richest men – and Oleg Deripaska, and Oleg Tinkov, among others. Three members of the Russian Duma – Vyacheslav Markhaev, Oleg Smolin and Mikhail Matveyev – also spoke out against the war.
Fourth, Russian military losses have been immense in recent weeks. Already, estimates suggest that Russia has lost more than 12 senior-rank Russia Generals, around 25000 troops, 1,110 tanks and 199 aircraft and 1,900 vehicles and fuel tanks. These figures exceed Soviet losses in ten years of fighting in Afghanistan. One of the Russian navy’s biggest losses was the sinking of lava Class cruiser Moskva, which symbolized Russian military power at the peak of its Soviet empire days and provided Russia strategic advantage in the Black Sea.
Fifth, in recent weeks, Europe and US have become even more proactive in providing military aid to Ukraine, including some of the most advanced weapons systems in the world which they had not given before.
At the same time, the war is taking a progressively heavy toll on the Russian economy. Russia has to spend an estimated $900 million a day to sustain its war effort in Ukraine. Inflation is at a high, as are economic sanctions against Russia, and it is speculated that if this continues, the Russian economy could be set back by at least three decades (Staten, 2022).
Despite official rhetoric by Russia, much of the fighting by Russian units is done using largely outdated equipment. Moreover, a new round of US sanctions is being levelled against Russian arms producers. The main goal of this package of sanctions will be to disrupt Russian military-industry supply chains, with critical materials, space-related technologies, and electronics to be targeted. Such lack of access to Western components will prevent the production of a wide array of Russian weaponry, thereby hobbling it in the war further.
Thus, in recent weeks, the condition of Russia has, on almost every front, gone from bad to worse, so much so that it has been reduced to engaging in nuclear threat propaganda. There is no immediate resolution of this war in sight, but one thing is for certain – the longer this war continues, the more it will unite the West and the world against the barbarism that Russia currently represents. It has also become an event that is acting as a catalyst for churning out the change in the whole of humanity, awakening its drowning collective conscience.
Communal Violence in India
In recent weeks, India has seen a spate of communal violence incidents across the country, particularly during the Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti processions in the month of April. Incidents of violence were witnessed in the following:
The Khargone city of Madhya Pradesh, where stones were pelted at a Hindu procession during the Ram Navami. Several vehicles and houses were torched during the violence and many, including three police personnel, were injured in the clash. Over 95 people were arrested in connection with the violence, a curfew was also imposed, and 16 houses and 29 shops were razed by the MP government.
Communal violence also took place in West Bengal’s Howrah city. The clash erupted after a speech at a Ram Navami rally. Participants in the rally allege that it was the local Muslims in the area who started pelting stones at them. As expected, the West Bengal police heavily lathi-charged the Ram Navami procession and arrested 17 people.
Another area in Bengal in the Bankura district witnessed communal violence. A Ram Navami procession when stopped by the local police turned violent, as stones were hurled at the cops. This led the authorities to lathi-charging and use tear gas against the participants.
The BJP in Bengal has alleged police complicity in the attack on Hindus during Ram Navami violence in the state.
Gujrat’s Khambat and Himmatnagar cities witnessed Ram Navami violence between Hindus and Muslims. There was a death and many injuries, due to stone-pelting, setting fire to properties etc. Ram Navami procession was attacked by the Muslims.
Clashes were also reported in at least two districts of Jharkhand in the Lohardagga and Bokaro districts. The areas witnessed stone-pelting and arson attacks during Ram Navami processions. Three persons were reported to be critically injured in the clash.
In Delhi, violence took place first in the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University over the issue of meat-eating in the hostel diner during Navaratri. The next round of communal clashes took place in Northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri area during Hanuman Jayanti, when Muslims pelted stones at a Hanuman Jayanti procession. Vehicles were also set on fire and police personnel were also attacked. The violence appeared to be pre-planned, as visuals showed that stones had already been stocked up. Around 21 people were arrested, and the Municipal Corporation razed some illegal settlements in the area.
In Karnataka’s Hubbali, around the time of Hanuman Jayanti, communal violence took place over a social media post. A Muslim mob pelted stones at a police station, injuring several policemen. 40 people were arrested in this connection.
In Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool, communal violence took place on Hanuman Jayanti when the procession was crossing a mosque. Despite the fact that the procession switched off its loudspeakers near the mosque, some vocal chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ led to Muslims attacking the procession, leading to communal clashes, with around 15 people injured.
In Uttarakhand’s Roorkee, the situation turned serious as a Hindu procession was pelted with stones on Hanuman Jayanti, injuring several people. This led to a communal conflagration as people from nearby villages gathered, but the police rapidly brought the situation under control. 9 arrests were made and 13 FIRs were lodged.
In Maharashtra’s Amravati, members of Hindu and Muslim communities pelted each other with stones over a small issue. In Mumbai, localized communal clashes occurred during a Hindu ‘Kalash Yatra’ held near a temple, injuring several people. In both cases, the situation was rapidly brought under control and 25 arrests were made. In Mumbai again, the issue snowballed into a political one as an attempt was made to organize Hanuman Chalisa recitation outside CM Uddhav Thackrey’s residence as a sign of protest against Shiv Sena’s anti-Hindu attitude.
Rajasthan has witnessed a series of serious communal clashes at different places. Serious clashes took place in Karauli, Alwar and Jodhpur. In Karauli, a Hindu rally, on the event of the Hindu New Year, was attacked with heavy stone-pelting by the Muslim community. The clashes led to arson as shops and vehicles were set ablaze, while over two dozen people sustained injuries. In Alwar, tensions ran high when the administration demolished a 300-year old Shiva temple using bulldozers and removed the idols using cutters. On Eid, communal clashes erupted in Jodhpur between Hindus and Muslims over the hoisting of flags, wherein the Muslim community also clashed with the police when it tried to bring the situation under control.
In all of these incidents of violence, two things stood out:
First, there was a visible mobilization of Hindus against attempts to scuttle their voices. Unlike in the previous years, Hindus have, in recent times, begun to actively fight back, due to the rise of the national spirit.
Second, the violence resulting from the Muslim community has a clear-cut political pattern, with intelligence agencies suspecting the hand of organizations like the Popular Front of India (PFI) behind much of the present and previous anti-national violence. They said the role of the PFI was suspected in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in 2018, Delhi riots in 2020, unrest in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh in 2021, the hijab row in Karnataka and Karauli violence in Rajasthan.
PFI has units in over 20 states and has been able to mobilize the Muslim youth quite a bit. Indeed, in Rajasthan and West Bengal, it even held massive rallies a few months back as a show of strength right under the patronage of the respective state governments. Just before the Karauli violence, PFI had even had the gumption to write a warning letter to Rajasthan CM, Mr Gehlot, saying that there might be a law and order problem in response to Hindu processions. Despite this, Mr Gehlot played politics over the issue and completely ignored the obvious role of radical Muslim organizations like PFI in instigating communalism.
CWSA 25. (1997). The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity, War and Self-Determination. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
Mirovalev, M. (2022, April 18). Al Jazeera. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/18/why-white-collar-russians-flee-two
Staten, A. (2022, May 6). Newsweek. Retrieved from https://www.newsweek.com/russia-spending-estimated-900-million-day-ukraine-war-1704383