RUSSIA’S WAR ON UKRAINE – LESSONS FOR INDIA

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine has many key lessons for India.

WE ARE ON OUR OWN:

–The US and her allies gave the impression that they would support Ukraine in case Russia embarks upon a military adventure. It has been more than 60 days into the military confrontation with no conflict termination in sight as yet. Hence, this has shown us that no foreign boot is going to save us in any conflict, even though we do conduct military exercises with foreign countries. We have to fight our own wars.

–China has adequate economic prowess, besides, with large scale troop deployment in Ladakh, build up in Arunachal Pradesh, overseas capitalization of projects in Africa, port build up in the islands in South Asia under the Belt and Road initiative, secret deals with Solomon Islands, China will show no hesitation in using force for achieving their political purposes.

–It also suggests that the western world and even Russia, may not pick up direct confrontation against strong military powers. China and Russia are in fact expected to be bolder in their political assertions in times to come.

–Pakistan army is not comfortable with the over-dependence on China for its defence needs and is desperate to rekindle western sources as well as Russia. Pakistan is seeking strategic balance between China, the US and Russia.

–For China, Pakistan is an all-weather friend and for the US it’s an important partner. Hence, ceasefire violations, terror attacks, civilian and J&K police killings, and targeted drone strikes, all have to be handled by us, single handedly.

–For Russia, China is a major economic partner and material supplier. Hence, our Ladakh standoff, troop escalation along the LAC, Arunachal Pradesh build up, cyber attacks on communication towers, all have to handled by us, single handedly.

FACING A NEW SECURITY REALITY:

–This conflict has pushed India into a pivotal role in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. It is for this reason that there has been a flurry of high level diplomatic visits from the US, Japan, Australia, Israel, the UK and even China, Russia and the EU. We must use this opportunity to leverage our interests, including national security. We should bring in more transfer of technology.

–The power blocs confrontation is only going to intensify. Hence, our posture should be best suited to make best of our friends and opportunities. We have in the recent times purchased the most modern transport aircraft like C-17 and armed helicopters like Apache from the US and along with that we are receiving military hardware like S-400 missiles from Russia.

–The current conflict in Ukraine is a hybrid war. It is not just fought with special forces, drones, and military hardware but also on social media and campaigns of disinformation, or fake news. Hence, we should be well-prepared for handling hybrid wars.

SELF RELIANCE FOR ARMED FORCES:

–It cannot be denied that the polarization of the world continues to impact majorly on India’s defence procurement. Indigenisation and self-reliance is the only way out in the long run.

–We should have both tanks and anti-tank missiles, both warships and homebuilt stealth hypersonic missiles, from 5th generation fighters to the attack and reconnaissance helicopters, both satellites and antisatellite missiles, both submarines and patrol vessels, both UAVs and counter UAV electronic hardware, from precision-guided munitions to cruise missiles, all our own.

–For example, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy have recently tied up with the Defence Research Development Organisation to get the CHAFF technology, which protects the warship from an anti-ship missile during hostilities. The development assumes significance as the Indian navy is currently studying the sinking of Russian missile cruiser Moskva and focusing on how to protect our warships from anti-ship ballistic missiles like the Chinese DF-21. CHAFF creates a metallic particle cloud near the warship and deflects the missiles from it.

–Closer collaboration will be required between our scientists, bureaucracy and Armed Forces for bringing innovation, infrastructure including border infrastructure and upgrading the existing systems in order to face future challenges.

BOOSTING OUR SOLDIERS’S MORALE:

–Resilience, in the military-strategic context, refers to the ability of soldiers and ordinary people to fight their own wars of defence against aggressors.  War Resilience describes the abilities of soldiers and the people to help themselves in times of crisis, and not expect the intervention of some greater power to save them.

–For our troops to have a high morale, soldiers’ problems like pay, pension, food, accommodation, emotional support should be resolved during peace time itself. Resentment amongst our soldiers, sailors and airmen is the last thing that we want during a war.

–The disparity between commissioned and non-commissioned officers in the Indian Armed Forces should decrease to generate a greater confidence, which will keep the troops motivated throughout the war-time.

BUILDING A RESPONSE FOR ANY CRISIS:

–We cannot allow ourselves to be surprised by any recklessness of any country. We must prepare ourselves for the risk of nuclear war. Citizens need to be taught using a manual, as regards what to do when faced with a nuclear or sub-conventional war.

–We need responsive emergency services during the times of war. Training and continued training of troops, making our paramilitary forces future ready, involving fire fighters and medical professionals in the exercises are all very important.

MILITARY PREPARADENESS:

–In the case of hybrid warfare or conventional / sub-conventional warfare, air-ground coordination is a very vital part. Hence our tri-services command and theater command exercises must evolve as per new reality. The theatre command exercises must involve Army, the Navy as well as Air Force.

–We should not hesitate with our second deterrent options. We should never posture ourselves as weak.

–Critical infrastructures, fuel depots, railway lines, airports, communication towers, sea ports, nuclear reactors are potential targets, if not, military targets, hence our wartime response must be to provide air defence across all critical infrastructures.

–Our border infrastructure calls for building of good roads and bridges, organizing smaller combat units so as to mobilize them quickly, see how fuel and ammunition replenishment happens within a minimum possible time frame, and such smaller troops, deployed on rotational basis are to be made capable of sustaining harsh weather, through physical and mental training.

–This should be accompanied by deep-attack air operations in its exercises that have combined intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) with a multi-domain strike, lift for rapid mobility, air-to-air refueling and advanced fighter maneuvers.

A STRONG DIPLOMACY:

— Our diplomacy should have an independent stand, i.e. strategic autonomy. We should not dangle around superpower blocs.

–We can be both balanced and assertive in our stand though.

–The contemporary world order is based on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Every country has a right to protect itself against aggression as enshrined in the UN Charter. Standing up for what is right and simultaneously being able to protect our interests does require a stronger diplomacy.

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY:

–On energy front, we should have our own energy independence programme by involving bio-diseal, biofuels, bio-turbine fuels, and other renewables as the best options.

–Even our electronic hardware and e-vehicles must not have a Chinese dependency.

A UNITED SOCIETY:

–Last but not the least, our society must be inherently united. Divisions based on religion, caste, language won’t make our huge nation stand a war.

–From the Himalayas to the Nicobars, our country should stand united and resilient, and with our Armed Forces, in order to face any warlike situation.

–BY YOGITA KADU

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