Amidst the digital fog of narratives regarding the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, a statement from a Russian senator has made rounds on South Asian Twitter and several news outlets. Senator Ignor Morozov, while speaking at a news conference on the topic “Nuclear Provocations in Ukraine: Who Need It?”, has made an egregious claim that a Ukrainian delegation has visited Pakistan to discuss the technologies required to develop nuclear weapons.
The Foreign Office of Pakistan in response rejected the accusations and said, “We are surprised by such an unfounded and baseless statement. It is without any rationale and is entirely inconsistent with the spirit of Pakistan-Russia relations.” Yes, the statement does come as a surprise since both Pakistan and Russia are on the path of mending their bilateral relations. However, not too much needs to be read between the lines for several reasons.
Understanding the matter better
Although the relations between Russia and Pakistan have improved considerably over the years, at the same time, there is an undeniable history of animosity between the two during the cold war. Hence, it is comprehensible that not everyone in Russia would agree or welcome the rapprochement with Pakistan. Since it is a statement coming from a senator and not an official of the executive branch of the Russian government therefore it cannot be taken as a policy statement as well.
The statement came at a seminar in Russia on the topic of “Nuclear Provocations in Ukraine” and was reported by RIA Novosti, the state-run domestic news agency of the Russian Federation. In the context of repeated Russian assertions that Ukraine is planning to use a dirty Bomb’ during the course of the ongoing war, it could be inferred that the gaffe about Pakistan was only meant for the domestic audience.
Ukrainians already have more than enough knowledge and expertise regarding nuclear power; hence they do not need the help of a third-world country like Pakistan. In fact, the military cooperation between Ukraine with countries like the United States is already at an all-time high since the beginning of the war. Hence, it would make a lot more sense if Ukraine would look towards these countries if it wishes to have the nuclear capability of its own. Needless to say, the technology that the western countries could offer would be far more sophisticated and advanced compared to Pakistan.
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War in the 21st century is not just fought on the battlefield
Narratives and counter-narratives are as much a part of it as guns, tanks and fighter jets. Russia has come under heavy criticism from western media for invasion in general and certain tactics like using Kamikaze drones, allegedly purchased from Iran, to target civilian infrastructure in particular. Ever since the beginning of the war, the west has projected Ukraine as David while Russia is Goliath for there is several commonalities that make it an apt analogy. The narrative against Russia in the English media especially has been unyielding. Western media has been presenting it as a war between good and evil. Consequently, any country that has been supplying arms and ammunition to Russia has been vilified and threatened with sanctions.
There was already little that Russia could have exploited for its propaganda machine since it was the one that initiated the biggest war in Europe since World War II. Russia has found support for its actions from a handful of insignificant countries. The abstentions of 35 countries in the UN resolutions against the Russian invasion are seen more as a failure of the western coalition to galvanize support for its cause rather than a success of Russian diplomacy. In one of its attempts to launch a counternarrative, Russian media has relentlessly propagated Ukraine’s intentions to use a ‘dirty bomb’ against Russian troops.
There are rumors that the UK has redirected the Pakistan Ordinance Factory (POF) manufactured artillery shells, that it purchased, to the Ukrainian troops. Senator Igor’s mention of Pakistan could be to malign the country just like the United States and the rest of the west have been targeting Iran and China. In all its essence, it is just a war of narratives that is being fought between the two sides outside Ukraine and targets countries that have taken decisions based on their own national interests, whatever that might be.
Both the United States-led western coalition for Ukraine and Russia have been trying to convince and woo the rest of the world, each arguing its cause to be the just one. Both sides have been trying to project as if it is a war concerning the future of the entire world and every country on the planet has a stake in it. Therefore, everybody should pick a side.
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The fact of the matter is, it is just another European conflict that has nothing to do with any other nation. But the externality of the conflict is that just like the grass getting trampled when elephants fight, Pakistan, a responsible nuclear state, is dragged into the equation for no reason. And once again those who have always held nefarious intentions against Pakistan are blowing the ludicrous claim out of proportion for their vested agendas.
The writer is a research Officer at Strategic Vision Institute (SVI). The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.