Why India isn’t denouncing Russia’s Ukraine war

“India forged a relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. That has carried over into the present day because of mutual interest and nostalgia, but the biggest reason might be defense. India’s arsenal is largely Soviet- or Russian-made; various analysts put the amount anywhere between 60 and 85 percent. And India needs its military to counter what it sees as the biggest threat in its neighborhood: China’s rise.

China’s rise is also the reason India and the United States have deepened their partnership in recent years; India is a member of the “Quad” (along with the US, Australia, and Japan), an informal alliance that came about years ago but which both the Trump and Biden administrations have sought to strengthen. The Quad doesn’t explicitly say it exists as a counterweight to Beijing; it’s a grouping of democracies focused on regional cooperation and other issues. But everyone — including China — gets it.

The antagonism between Washington and Moscow, made worse by Ukraine, puts India in an uncomfortable bind. Except India is used to this. In the Cold War, India practiced nonalignment, where it sought to avoid becoming entangled in the superpower conflicts and maintain its sovereignty. Although that policy has evolved in the decades since, the idea of autonomy still undergirds how India sees its foreign policy.

India “can really silo off relationships,” said Derek Grossman, senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, focusing on national security and the Indo-Pacific region. “The relationship they have with Russia should have no bearing whatsoever on their relationships with China, the US, or anybody else.”

It is why India has walked a careful tightrope since Russia launched its war. Prime Minister Modi spoke to both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shortly after the invasion, reportedly saying in these calls that he wished for an end to hostilities and a return to dialogue. Modi has had to work with both governments over efforts to evacuate thousands of Indian citizens stranded in Ukraine. (At least one Indian student was killed in the siege on Kharkiv.)

While India hasn’t denounced Russia, it has made some pointed comments. India’s Ambassador to the United Nations said in a statement after an abstention on a February 27 UN Security Council vote that the global order is anchored in “respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states.” (That element — Russia’s unprovoked incursion into a sovereign Ukraine — is the one that India might be most sensitive to because of its own border dispute with China.)”

“The Soviet Union and India saw a benefit in relying on each other to counter China and a possible US-China partnership. But India got another perk: Soviet weaponry at what Ganguly called “bargain basement” prices. From the 1970s onward, India built up its military with Soviet, and later Russian, arms and equipment. Even today, the majority of India’s weaponry is of Soviet or Russian origin. Since 2010, Russia makes up two-thirds of India’s arms imports. New Delhi remains Moscow’s biggest arms importer, according to data compiled from the Congressional Research Service.

India has tried to diversify, going to the United Kingdom and France and Israel, and especially, the United States. As the relationship between the US and India grew in the past few decades, so, too, did defense cooperation — to the tune of billions in arms sales. But it’s still nowhere near the amount Russia provides. It’s also not as simple as just swapping out Russian stuff with new, US-made stuff. “Over the last 10 years, Indians have been steadily trying to reduce their dependence on Russia,” Ganguly said. “But it’s damn difficult.”

India needs spare parts to maintain the equipment it already has; arms imports from the US or elsewhere may be inoperable with Russian equipment. India also doesn’t have unlimited funds for defense, and US arms may not come as cheap as Russia’s. “It’s not [as though] you can just turn it off and stop the purchases now,” said Deepa Ollapally, a political scientist specializing in Indian foreign policy at George Washington University. “You’ve got to take care of your entire arsenal, which it won’t be that easy to do.””

“Experts also cautioned against completely pigeonholing India’s connection to Russia as solely transactional. India’s history of being brutally colonized by the British still makes it somewhat wary of being told what to do by the West.”

“India’s biggest concern remains Beijing, especially in the Himalayas, where a decades-old border dispute with China remains a serious source of tension, including a 2020 flare-up, which reportedly left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

But Moscow has grown closer with Beijing, too. In the lead-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin visited Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing, during the Olympics. The two said there were “no limits” to their partnership, and Putin may have planned his war around the Beijing Games at the request of Chinese officials, according to Western intelligence sources.”

“India still sees Russia as a possible partner in the region, but the more leverage China has over Russia, the less likely that will play out in India’s favor.”

9 big questions about Russia’s war in Ukraine, answered

“Beneath this rhetoric, according to experts on Russia, lies a deeper unstated fear: that his regime might fall prey to a similar protest movement. Ukraine could not succeed, in his view, because it might create a pro-Western model for Russians to emulate — one that the United States might eventually try to covertly export to Moscow. This was a central part of his thinking in 2014, and it remains so today.

“He sees CIA agents behind every anti-Russian political movement,” says Seva Gunitsky, a political scientist who studies Russia at the University of Toronto. “He thinks the West wants to subvert his regime””

““The formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us,” as he put it in his 2021 essay.

Why Putin decided that merely seizing part of Ukraine was no longer enough remains a matter of significant debate among experts. One theory, advanced by Russian journalist Mikhail Zygar, is that pandemic-induced isolation drove him to an extreme ideological place.

But while the immediate cause of Putin’s shift on Ukraine is not clear, the nature of that shift is. His longtime belief in the urgency of restoring Russia’s greatness curdled into a neo-imperial desire to bring Ukraine back under direct Russian control. And in Russia, where Putin rules basically unchecked, that meant a full-scale war.”

“The initial Russian plan reportedly operated under the assumption that a swift march on Kyiv would meet only token resistance. Putin “actually really thought this would be a ‘special military operation’: They would be done in a few days, and it wouldn’t be a real war,” says Michael Kofman, an expert on the Russian military at the CNA think tank.

This plan fell apart within the first 48 hours of the war when early operations like an airborne assault on the Hostomel airport ended in disaster, forcing Russian generals to develop a new strategy on the fly. What they came up with — massive artillery bombardments and attempts to encircle and besiege Ukraine’s major cities — was more effective (and more brutal). The Russians made some inroads into Ukrainian territory, especially in the south, where they have laid siege to Mariupol and taken Kherson and Melitopol.”

“Russia’s invasion has gone awry for two basic reasons: Its military wasn’t ready to fight a war like this, and the Ukrainians have put up a much stronger defense than anyone expected.

Russia’s problems begin with Putin’s unrealistic invasion plan. But even after the Russian high command adjusted its strategy, other flaws in the army remained.

“We’re seeing a country militarily implode,” says Robert Farley, a professor who studies air power at the University of Kentucky.

One of the biggest and most noticeable issues has been rickety logistics. Some of the most famous images of the war have been of Russian armored vehicles parked on Ukrainian roads, seemingly out of gas and unable to advance. The Russian forces have proven to be underequipped and badly supplied, encountering problems ranging from poor communications to inadequate tires.

Part of the reason is a lack of sufficient preparation. Per Kofman, the Russian military simply “wasn’t organized for this kind of war” — meaning, the conquest of Europe’s second-largest country by area. Another part of it is corruption in the Russian procurement system. Graft in Russia is less a bug in its political system than a feature; one way the Kremlin maintains the loyalty of its elite is by allowing them to profit off of government activity. Military procurement is no exception to this pattern of widespread corruption, and it has led to troops having substandard access to vital supplies.

The same lack of preparation has plagued Russia’s air force. Despite outnumbering the Ukrainian air force by roughly 10 times, the Russians have failed to establish air superiority: Ukraine’s planes are still flying and its air defenses mostly remain in place.

Perhaps most importantly, close observers of the war believe Russians are suffering from poor morale. Because Putin’s plan to invade Ukraine was kept secret from the vast majority of Russians, the government had a limited ability to lay a propaganda groundwork that would get their soldiers motivated to fight. The current Russian force has little sense of what they’re fighting for or why — and are waging war against a country with which they have religious, ethnic, historical, and potentially even familial ties. In a military that has long had systemic morale problems, that’s a recipe for battlefield disaster.”

“Vladimir Putin’s government has ramped up its already repressive policies during the Ukraine conflict, shuttering independent media outlets and blocking access to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It’s now extremely difficult to get a sense of what either ordinary Russians or the country’s elite think about the war, as criticizing it could lead to a lengthy stint in prison.”

“Putin has done an effective job engaging in what political scientists call “coup-proofing.” He has put in barriers — from seeding the military with counterintelligence officers to splitting up the state security services into different groups led by trusted allies — that make it quite difficult for anyone in his government to successfully move against him.

“Putin has prepared for this eventuality for a long time and has taken a lot of concerted actions to make sure he’s not vulnerable,” says Adam Casey, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan who studies the history of coups in Russia and the former communist bloc.

Similarly, turning the antiwar protests into a full-blown influential movement is a very tall order.”

“Most other countries around the world fall somewhere on the spectrum between the West and China. Outside of Europe, only a handful of mostly pro-American states — like South Korea, Japan, and Australia — have joined the sanctions regime. The majority of countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America do not support the invasion, but won’t do very much to punish Russia for it either.

India is perhaps the most interesting country in this category. A rising Asian democracy that has violently clashed with China in the very recent past, it has good reasons to present itself as an American partner in the defense of freedom. Yet India also depends heavily on Russian-made weapons for its own defense and hopes to use its relationship with Russia to limit the Moscow-Beijing partnership. It’s also worth noting that India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has strong autocratic inclinations.

The result of all of this is a balancing act reminiscent of India’s Cold War approach of “non-alignment”: refusing to side with either the Russian or American positions while attempting to maintain decent relations with both. India’s perceptions of its strategic interests, more than ideological views about democracy, appear to be shaping its response to the war — as seems to be the case with quite a few countries around the world.”

Opinion | Why Democracy’s in Such Trouble: A Crisis in Public Trust of Government

“The national poll, conducted on behalf of our two organizations by Impact Research, shows that only four in 10 Americans at least somewhat trust the federal government to do what is right. For all the concern about the rise of anti-democratic movements or unfair laws that could be used to steal an election, that disheartening statistic strikes at the heart of our nation’s primary democratic institution and its ability to deal with social, economic and foreign policy challenges. If you don’t trust your government, does it really matter what policies it pursues?”

“At least four basic responses from our leaders are needed, according to the polling — making visible the work of career civil servants, distinguished from the political leadership; emphasizing the ways government works on behalf of all; continuing to reform government so it is most effective and efficient; and then telling those stories to break the negative cycle.

When people don’t trust their government, they are more likely to opt out of voting and other types of civic participation. With less engagement, the public feels less empowered to influence government — and, in turn, government “hears” their needs and preferences less. This creates a mistrust loop: Diminished trust in government leads to a disengaged public, resulting in inefficient, unresponsive or unaccountable institutions, and that leads to further deterioration of trust and national progress.”

“Some of the public distrust over the years has been driven by controversial wars, policy blunders, mismanagement and political malfeasance, but a good deal is the result of a lack of information or an inability to differentiate the activities of elected political leaders from the critical services provided by federal agencies and the two million civil servants located across the country.
The public’s expectations and trust are often shaped by personal experiences. People applying for financial aid for college, visiting a national park, seeking assistance after a hurricane or going through airport security may be the only lenses through which they may see our government in action.

The new polling shows that positive experiences build goodwill and trust, but even a single negative interaction can have a lasting impact on people’s faith in government and democratic institutions.”

How Congress’s dependence on short-term funding keeps us stuck in the past

“the latest CR means that government agencies are still operating on a budget from December 2020. Not only is that budget insufficient to meet the funding needs of major portions of the government, such as the Defense and Transportation departments, but the use of the CR prevents the implementation of new programs from legislation Congress has already passed, like the infrastructure bill. Without individual appropriations bills or an omnibus bill that accounts for all of the programs and funding needed for different agencies, the government can’t get started on a number of major projects despite the clear need for infrastructure upgrades and bipartisan support for the legislation.”

New York is about to let noncitizens vote. It could reshape local politics forever.

“a national movement to give voting rights to legal noncitizens has found its way to the country’s most populous city and, pending court battles, will soon give those immigrants the chance to shape local elections.
About 800,000 green card holders and others authorized to work in the country will become eligible to vote for mayor, City Council and other local offices. New York is by far the largest city to make such a move.

The impact on local elections could potentially be far-reaching. The city’s electorate consists of just under 5 million active registered voters, meaning a major push to register immigrants and get them to the polls could reshape politics in New York. Voting blocs like the one that elected Linares could have the power to affect the outcome of not just City Council races but even the next mayoral race.

Proponents say noncitizen voting will give more political clout to communities whose concerns have often been overlooked, and force candidates and elected officials to be responsive to a broader swath of the population. Opponents — who are challenging the law in court — predict it could be a logistical nightmare, and charge the increased influence for immigrant voters could come at the expense of U.S.-born Black voters.”

“New York wasn’t alone in allowing some form of noncitizen voting in years past: as many as 40 states practiced it at some point from the 18th century through the early 20th century, according to research by Ron Hayduk, a professor at San Francisco State University who has studied noncitizen voting, including the New York school board election. The practice was abolished in the last of those states nearly a hundred years ago.”

Equasy – An overlooked addiction with implications for the current debate on drug harms

“So what was her addiction – what is equasy? It is an addiction that produces the release of adrenaline and endorphins and
which is used by many millions of people in the UK including
children and young people. The harmful consequences are well
established – about 10 people a year die of it and many more
suffer permanent neurological damage as had my patient. It has
been estimated that there is a serious adverse event every 350
exposures and these are unpredictable, though more likely in
experienced users who take more risks with equasy. It is also
associated with over 100 road traffic accidents per year – often
with deaths. Equasy leads to gatherings of users that often are
associated with these groups engaging in violent conduct.
Dependence, as defined by the need to continue to use, has
been accepted by the courts in divorce settlements. Based on
these harms, it seems likely that the ACMD would recommend
control under the MDAct perhaps as a class A drug given it
appears more harmful than ecstasy (See Table 1).

Have you worked out what equasy is yet? It stands for
Equine Addiction Syndrome, a condition characterised by gaining pleasure from horses and being prepared to countenance the
consequences especially the harms from falling off/under the
horse. I suspect most people will be surprised that riding is
such a dangerous activity. The data are quite startling – people
die and are permanently damaged from falling – with neck and
spine fracture leading to permanent spinal injury (Silver and
Parry, 1991; Silver 2002). Head injury is four times more com-
mon though often less obvious and is the usual cause of death.
In the USA, approximately 11,500 cases of traumatic head
injury a year are due to riding (Thomas, et al., 2006), and we
can presume a proportionate number in the UK. Personality
change, reduced motor function and even early onset
Parkinson’s disease are well recognised especially in rural clinical practices where horse riding is very common. In some shire counties, it has been estimated that riding causes more head
injury than road traffic accidents. Violence is historically inti-mately associated with equasy – especially those who gather
together in hunting groups; initially, this was interspecies aggression but latterly has become specific person to person violence
between the pro and anti-hunt lobby groups.”

“So why are harmful sporting activities allowed, whereas relatively less harmful drugs are not? I believe this reflects a societal
approach which does not adequately balance the relative risks of
drugs against their harms. It is also a failure to understand the
motivations of, particularly younger people, who take drugs and
their assessment of the perceived risks compared with other
activities. The general public, especially the younger generation,
are disillusioned with the lack of balanced political debate about
drugs. This lack of rational debate can undermine the trust in
government in relation to drug misuse and thereby undermining
the government’s message in public information campaigns.”

The absurd Supreme Court case that could gut the EPA

“Now the West Virginia plaintiffs raise several different legal arguments against the nonexistent Clean Power Plan, several of which could permanently hobble the federal government’s power to regulate if adopted by the Court.

A brief filed by several senior red-state officials, for example, rests heavily on the “major questions” doctrine, a legal doctrine that is currently fashionable among Republican judges but that was also invented entirely by judges and has no basis in any statute or provision of the Constitution.

The major questions doctrine claims that there are fairly strict limits on federal agencies’ power to hand down particularly impactful regulations. As the Court most recently stated in NFIB v. OSHA (2022), “we expect Congress to speak clearly when authorizing an agency to exercise powers of vast economic and political significance.” And several of the plaintiffs in West Virginia argue that the Clean Air Act isn’t sufficiently clear to justify a regulation like the Clean Power Plan.

One problem with this major questions doctrine is that it is vague. The Court has never explained what constitutes a matter of “vast economic and political significance,” or just how “clearly” Congress must “speak” to permit an agency to issue significant regulations. So, in practice, the major questions doctrine largely just functions as a veto power, allowing judges to justify blocking nearly any regulation they do not like. If a judge doesn’t like a particular regulation, they can just claim that it is too big.”

“Other briefs in the West Virginia case suggest that the Clean Power Plan violates the “nondelegation doctrine,” another judge-created doctrine that limits Congress’s power to delegate the power to issue binding regulations to federal agencies. This doctrine is even more vague than the major questions doctrine, and even more capable of being applied selectively to strike down regulations that a particular panel of judges do not like.

As Justice Neil Gorsuch described nondelegation in 2019, a federal law authorizing an agency to regulate must be “‘sufficiently definite and precise to enable Congress, the courts, and the public to ascertain whether Congress’s guidance has been followed.” How “precise” must the law be? That’s up to judges to decide.

Notably because this doctrine outright forbids Congress from delegating certain powers to an agency, a Supreme Court decision that struck down the Clean Power Plan on nondelegation grounds could permanently strip Congress of its power to authorize the EPA to issue major regulations in the future. Indeed, depending on how broadly the Supreme Court worded such a decision, it could impose drastic new limits on every single federal agency.”

“the issues at stake in West Virginia can be summarized fairly concisely. It is a case about a regulation that does not exist, that never took effect, and that would have imposed obligations on the energy industry that it would have met anyway. It also involves two legal doctrines that are mentioned nowhere in the Constitution, and that have no basis in any federal statute.

And yet, West Virginia could wind up permanently hobbling the government’s ability to fight climate change.”

This Indian Family Froze to Death Trying To Reach America. Our Immigration System Should Have Saved Them.

“Their case is an unfortunate example of what some people resort to when their immigration options are limited. Often, they are willing to take on extremely risky journeys for the chance of a better life. The Patels’ story is proof that an inaccessible immigration system won’t deter migrants whose minds are made up but will instead push them toward unsafe passages.

Local media reported that the Patels, who had worked as schoolteachers in the west Indian state of Gujarat, hoped to create a “new life” in the U.S. Jagdish made just $120 per month working in a local factory, and his wife Vaishaliben dreamed of working in a beauty salon in America. NBC News noted in January that Jagdish “wanted a better education for his kids, as well as better job opportunities and higher pay for himself and his wife, none of which he felt he could find in India.” He looked to one of many advertisements in his town marketing easy passage to the U.S. Thus began the journey that would prove fatal.

For people like the Patels, immigration pathways are limited. Most Indian legal permanent residents of the U.S. have received family-based or employment-based green cards—amounting to 98 percent of visa holders as of 2018. Employment-based channels largely bring in Indian migrants with higher skills and better education than the Patels, and the family did not seem to have relatives in the U.S. who could have sponsored them. Being Indian, they were ineligible for the Diversity Visa that caters to migrants in countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. They likely would not have been eligible for refugee or asylum pathways, given that their reasons for migrating were more rooted in economic reasons than safety concerns.

“These people effectively had no legal options that allowed them to safely travel to the U.S. and work,” says Sam Peak, an immigration policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity, a free market think tank.”

“Multiple factors prevented the Patels from reaching the better life they dreamed of having in the U.S. The American immigration system should welcome people who are seeking better opportunities and can improve the economies of their new communities. It may be too late for the Patels, but visa reforms can help prevent future migrant deaths on our borders.”

Sea Level To Rise One Foot by 2050, Says NOAA

“since 1968 the U.S. government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has been subsidizing a significant number of its policyholders to build and live in flood-prone areas. As a result of losses outstripping its premiums, the NFIP is $20.5 billion in debt. In a recent article in Regulation, Peter Van Doren, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, points out that the often highly concentrated nature of flood disasters would require private insurers to charge premiums amounting to 5 to 9 times the average claim in order to remain solvent. Few people would buy such expensive policies.

Last fall the NFIP launched its Risk Rating 2.0 program which is raising the rates for nearly 75 percent of its policyholders. Premiums may increase by as much as 18 percent per year for owner-occupied homes and 25 percent for second homes. Over time, such increases will incentivize people to move away from areas where the sea is engulfing their homes and businesses.

A growing body of research suggests that at least some Americans are beginning to factor sea level rise into their purchases of beachfront property.”