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How the U.S. converge with India and China sells gunpowder for Russia’s war in Ukraine

Biden and Modi; China selling gunpowder to Russia, new oil sanctions, and Ukraine’s counteroffensive

Biden and Modi; China selling gunpowder to Russia, new oil sanctions, and Ukraine’s counteroffensive

The U.S. and India are establishing relations; Ukraine's counteroffensive continues, but success reports are yet to come. Meanwhile, the EU introduced new restrictions on Russian oil in the 11th package of sanctions; and evidence emerged of China selling gunpowder to Russia for its war in Ukraine.

The Page offers a digest of Western mass media at the end of the June 19–23, 2023, business week.

Biden met with Modi: What the Indian leader said about Ukraine

Modi met with Biden. Photo: Getty Images

Modi met with Biden. Photo: Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden held a press conference with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a state visit on Thursday, The New York Times reports.

During the meeting, the leaders emphasized the common ground between the countries while skirting points of friction over human rights and Russia’s war in Ukraine. Biden showered Modi with flattery as he sought to draw India closer at a time when the United States finds itself locked in an open conflict with Moscow and in an uneasy standoff with China.

India, which remained staunchly nonaligned during the Cold War, has refused to join the American-led coalition aiding Ukraine in its war against invading Russian forces. And while India shares a certain enmity for China, it has not fully subscribed to Washington’s strategy for restraining the Asian giant in the Indo-Pacific region or defending Taiwan against aggression.

Modi offered no indication that he had changed his mind about Russia or China. During an address to a joint session of Congress, he avoided even using the words "Russia" or "China."

Quote"With the Ukraine conflict, war has returned to Europe," he said, without saying who started the war.

Why India and the U.S. converge

Biden and Modi: Why India and the U.S. converge. Photo: Getty Images

Biden and Modi: Why India and the U.S. converge. Photo: Getty Images

Behind the carefully crafted ceremonies lie discussions that have the potential to have an impact on the global order, the BBC comments on the Biden-Modi meeting.

The United States has long viewed India as a counterbalance to China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, and China continues to be one of the main catalysts driving India-U.S. relations.

In 2022, Delhi held a military drill with U.S. forces in Uttarakhand state, which shares a Himalayan border with China, and has continued to actively participate in the Quad, which also includes the U.S., Australia, and Japan.

But the two countries have had differing approaches to the Ukraine war. Delhi has not directly criticized Russia, which analysts say is largely due to its huge dependency on Russian weapons, which accounts for 45% of Indian defense imports, and its "time-tested ties" with Moscow.

India doesn't want to be confined to a specific power center in the global order, which irked Washington diplomats in the early months of the invasion. But the U.S. has softened its stance in recent months — it has even overlooked India's continuous purchase of crude oil from Russia. India too has gone a step forward by publicly calling for an end to the war.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive: Why do we know so little?

Ukraine goes on offensive: What are the goals? Photo: Getty Images

Ukraine goes on offensive: What are the goals? Photo: Getty Images

The long-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian invaders is underway, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed Saturday.

The Washington Post editor Damir Marusic offers answers to five common questions based on editorials published by the newspaper.

Why is so little known about battlefield progress?

This is by design. Ukraine’s top commander understands that the element of surprise can be decisive. Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling wrote for The Post:

Quote"As a professional soldier, Ukrainian General Valery Zaluzhny knows he holds only two major advantages when going on the offensive: picking the time and the place of the attack. He knows that after launching tens of thousands of soldiers against the Russian army — a force that has been preparing defensive positions for months — it’s impossible to call them back."

How will Ukraine’s counteroffensive unfold?

U.S. officials told columnist David Ignatius that the initial push was to the "south along multiple axes." According to Russians, fiercest fighting has taken place in the Zaporizhzhia region in the south, near the city of Orikhiv.

Ukraine has yet to achieve a breakthrough, and there are indications that its forces have lost several armored vehicles, including Western-provided tanks. But we have no reliable assessment of how much damage Ukraine’s attacks have done to Russia’s defenses.

Retired Army General David Petraeus is cautiously optimistic about the Ukrainian counteroffensive. According to columnist Max Boot, the general is confident that Ukraine will eventually prevail but warns that Ukraine will sustain losses in the early phases.

What does Ukraine hope to achieve during the counteroffensive?

Ukraine’s official objective is to push Russian forces out of every inch of its territory. As former U.S. ambassadors John E. Herbst and Daniel Fried wrote for The Post, however, the quickest way for Ukraine to end the war would be to cut Russia’s land bridge to occupied Crimea.

Quote"If successful, such a move could be decisive," they wrote. "It would divide Russian forces arrayed across Ukraine’s south, and even potentially put Crimea itself in a vulnerable position."

The current fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region might not constitute the main thrust of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. Should a partial breakthrough in the south compel Russian commanders to move troops from other parts of the front as reinforcements, Ukraine might take the opportunity to blitz weakened Russian defenses and win back territory in the north.

How long will the counteroffensive last?

It could go on for weeks, or months. As The Post’s Editorial Board argued, this is best seen as a crucial battle in a long struggle.

Quote"The fighting in Ukraine is unlikely to subside anytime soon. In Washington and Europe, officials are laying plans to add muscle to Kyiv’s defensive capabilities over the next decade, assuming Russia’s aggressive designs will persist."

Ukraine’s counteroffensive: What is at stake?

Besides reclaiming occupied territories from Russian forces, Ukraine strives to convince Western publics and policymakers that their investment in Ukraine’s defense is paying dividends on the battlefield.

The Post’s Marc A. Thiessen laid out a 10-point case for why support is in America’s national interest.

According to him, if the United States helps Ukraine prevail, they will be able to:

  • rewrite the narrative of U.S. weakness;
  • restore deterrence with China;
  • strike a blow against the Sino-Russian alliance;
  • decimate the Russian threat to Europe;
  • increase burden-sharing with U.S. allies;
  • improve its military preparedness for other adversaries;
  • stop a global nuclear arms race;
  • dissuade other nuclear states from launching wars of aggression;
  • make World War III less likely.

New oil sanctions against Russia: What they entail

Photo: depositphotos.com

Photo: depositphotos.com

According to Politico, hundreds of tankers could be barred from European ports as part of a new effort to crack down on illicit sales of Russian crude oil that are helping fund the war in Ukraine.

The 11th package of sanctions to be imposed on Moscow in just over a year was agreed upon on Wednesday. Draft documents seen by POLITICO show Brussels' focus is now on tightening loopholes in existing rules, creating powers for secondary sanctions, and punishing companies that fall foul of the rules.

Quote"Attempts to circumvent Union restrictive measures have resulted in a sharp increase of deceptive practices by vessels transporting Russian crude oil and petroleum products," the text of the Council decision reads.

Officials are concerned about the so-called shadow fleet of hundreds of aging tankers carrying Russian oil, potentially bought at prices above the $60 per barrel price cap imposed by the G7.

Many of the vessels, which are typically owned by an opaque network of shell companies, turn off their navigation systems to hide the fact they have docked at Russian ports, or take on fuel from other tankers at sea to obscure its origins.

Measures proposed by the European Commission and agreed by member countries will prohibit vessels suspected of these shady practices from entering EU ports "irrespective of their flag of registration."

Tankers will also have to notify authorities if they are planning a ship-to-ship oil transfer "at least 48 hours in advance" within specific geographical areas.

Russia has stepped up exports of oil to countries like India, China and Pakistan in recent months, while figures show that the EU is importing fuel refined from crude by these Asian nations.

In May, the International Energy Agency reported that the volume of Moscow's crude shipments had risen to the highest level since its invasion of Ukraine, up 50,000 barrels per day to 8.3 million barrels, despite the price controls.

However, according to Maximillian Hess, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and author of a forthcoming book on Russia sanctions entitled "Economic War," the oil price cap is having an effect. Moscow's federal budget revenues from fossil fuels were around 36 percent lower this May than they were the previous year.

China sells gunpowder for Russia’s war in Ukraine

Evidence was found that China provides Russia with lethal aid. Photo: depositphotos.com

Evidence was found that China provides Russia with lethal aid. Photo: depositphotos.com

According to Import Genius, a U.S.-based trade data aggregator cited by The New York Times, the Chinese company Poly Technologies sent tens of thousands of kilograms of smokeless powder to the Russian city of Zabaykalsk in 2022 — an amount enough to make at least 80 million rounds of ammunition.

The destination was Barnaul Cartridge Plant.

U.S. officials have expressed concerns that China could provide lethal aid for Russia, though they have not said outright that China has made such shipments.

Speaking from Beijing on Monday, Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, said China had assured the United States that it was not providing lethal assistance to Russia for use in Ukraine, and that the U.S. government had "not seen anything right now to contradict that."

Quote"But what we are concerned about is private companies in China that may be providing assistance," Blinken added.

Poly Technologies, which is owned by the Chinese government, is one of China’s largest arms exporters. The United States previously imposed sanctions on the company for its global sales of missile technology and The Wall Street Journal and CNN documented shipments of navigation equipment and helicopter parts from Poly Technologies to Russian state-backed firms.

Barnaul Cartridge Plant is a private company which, according to procurement records provided to The New York Times, has numerous contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense. The plant was added to a list of companies sanctioned by the European Union in December.. Open source information suggests the plant may have served as a training camp linked with the Wagner Group.

In customs paperwork Poly Technologies described the powder as being "for assembly of foreign-style hunting cartridges."

But Brian Carlson, a China-Russia expert and the head of the global security team of the think tank at the Center for Security Studies, said that while such cartridges could be used for hunting, this was rare.

Quote"These are military cartridges," he said.
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