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Ukrainian servicemen fire with a Bureviy multiple launch rocket system at a position in Donetsk region, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine November 29, 2022.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

NEW DELHI:

Russia has been “quite effective” in conveying to India and other developing countries that it is not to be blamed for theUkraine crisis and the accompanying disruption of the global security and supply chains, said the State Secretary of Latvia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Andris Pelss here on Wednesday, November 30, 2022..

In an exclusive interaction with The Hindu, the visiting top diplomat of Latvia described Russia as a “rational actor” that failed to anticipate the support that Ukraine would receive from rest the of Europe in case of an attack and stated that the Russian leadership was threatened by the fact that Ukraine had chosen “a different path” despite being similar to Russia.

Also read: PM Modi tells Vladimir Putin ‘now is not an era of war

“When I speak to people of India and other countries that we call the Global South, I have to recognize that Russia has been quite effective in pushing its narrative about the war saying that it is not Russia who caused it and that it’s somebody else who is culpable of the global disruptions in food stuffs and energy and that somehow it is always the fault of the victim and not the fault of the aggressor,” said Mr. Pelss recognising the Russian “narrative” regarding the crisis in Ukraine, adding, “probably Russia has not been that effective in the battlefield but in pushing the narrative, they have been quite effective and  that we have to counter and tell the truth of the war in Ukraine.”

The war began on  February 24 when Russia launched what it defined as a “special military operation” against Ukraine. In the last couple of months, repeated Russian assaults on the energy infrastructure of Ukraine has left the population without stable electricity supply in the backdrop of a harsh winter that has set in.

India’s stance

India however, has refrained from condemning Russia’s actions and has proactively reached out to Moscow to stabilize energy supplies in the backdrop of the global energy crisis that was triggered as an economic fallout of the Ukraine war. According to the latest estimates, Moscow has emerged as the largest supplier of energy to India above the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Pelss who held a meeting with the Secretary (West) Sanjay Verma of the Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday said Latvia and India share features like free press and electoral democracy and that the war is not just a “European problem” but it is a “Russian challenge to the current international rules-based system founded upon the UN Charter.” According to the MEA, two officials discussed the “entire range of bilateral relations” including “the Indo-Pacific, India’s neighbourhood, EU, Ukraine conflict.”

Latvia which has been a member of the European Union since 2004 supports “text based negotiation” for reform of the Security Council of the United Nations. Mr.Pelss described the reform of the UNSC as a “better way” to adopt the post-1940s international system to changing developments in the world.

“One of the threats that was perceived by the Russian leadership regarding Ukraine was that it is a country which is very comparable – very similar – to Russia itself and at the same time it had chosen a different path in its way of governance, and in its choices in the international arena. I think that was also seen by some in Russia as a bad example to Russia,” said State Secretary Pelss describing Russia as a “rational actor that weighs costs and benefits” of major decisions.

He mentioned that there is no visible tension inside Kremlin because of the high stakes military and economic confrontation between Russia and the West because the Russian government has managed to “stifle” dissenting views on its “special military operation in Ukraine”. Latvia, Mr. Pelss said, is trying to provide the alternative Russian opinion through several Russian “independent media outlets” like Meduza that are operating from Latvian capital Riga.

“Latvia has taken in some major Russian news organizations to make sure that they can keep telling the truth like Meduza, and TV Rain who had left Russia and come to Latvia. Riga is a major hub for that,” said Mr. Pelss revealing his government’s support to the critics of the Kremlin.



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