Why Is the Black Sea Crucial To Russia?


The sinking of the huge Russian warship Moskva whether due to a Ukrainian missile strike or, as Russia claims, a fire on board — is a serious setback for Russia in the Black Sea.


GS II- International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Black Sea
  2. Russia and the Black Sea
  3. Black Sea in the Ukraine war
  4. Sinking of the Moskva

About the Black Sea

  • The Black Sea is a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean lying between Europe and Asia; east of the Balkans (Southeast Europe), south of the East European Plain in Eastern Europe, west of the Caucasus, and north of Anatolia in Western Asia.
  • The Black Sea is bordered by Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine.
  • The Black Sea ultimately drains into the Mediterranean Sea, via the Turkish Straits and the Aegean Sea.
  • The Bosporus Strait connects it to the small Sea of Marmara which in turn is connected to the Aegean Sea via the Strait of the Dardanelles. To the north, the Black Sea is connected to the Sea of Azov by the Kerch Strait.

Russia and the Black Sea

  • The famed water body bound by Ukraine to the north and northwest, Russia and Georgia to the east, Turkey to the south, and Bulgaria and Romania to the west, which links to the Sea of Marmara through the Bosphorus and then to the Aegean through the Dardanelles, has traditionally been Russia’s warm water gateway to Europe.
  • For Russia, the Black Sea is both a stepping stone to the Mediterranean as well as a strategic buffer between NATO and itself.
  • Domination of the Black Sea region is a geostrategic imperative for Moscow, both to project Russian power in the Mediterranean and to secure the economic gateway to key markets in southern Europe.

Black Sea in the Ukraine war

  • Russia has been making efforts to gain complete control over the Black Sea since the Crimean crisis of 2014.
  • During the ongoing invasion, the domination of the Black Sea has been a major Russian objective, along with the land bridge to connect Russia and Crimea.
  • As such, there have been intense efforts to capture Mariupol, the Sea of Azov port in the breakaway eastern Ukrainian oblast of Donetsk.

Sinking of the Moskva

  • Russian news outlets have described the Moskva as one of the Russian Navy’s biggest ships.
  • It had been deployed by Moscow to the coast of Georgia during the 12-day war over South Ossetia and Abkhazia in August 2008, and to support Russian troops and equipment in Syria in 2015.
  • After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, ships of the Black Sea Fleet, including the Moskva, fired a barrage of missiles into Ukraine, and blocked the country’s access to the Black Sea.
  • The sinking of the Moskva is believed to be the worst loss in the history of naval warfare since the sinking of the Argentine naval cruiser General Belgrano by a British submarine on May 2, 1982, during the Falklands War.
  • The fact that the Moskva was sunk by shore-based anti-ship cruise missiles which took advantage of bad weather and used decoy UAV attacks to defeat the ship’s air defence systems demonstrates the success of outside-the-box measures adopted by Ukraine in the war.



There is a delay in the delivery of the second regiment of S-400 from Russia due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. However, some training equipment and simulators arrived in India


GS-II: International Relations (Foreign policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About S-400 Triumf
  2. Issues with Acquisition of S-400
  3. About India’s acquisition of S-400

About S-400 Triumf

  • S-400 Triumf is one of the world’s most advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems designed by Russia.
  • The system is a large complex of radars, control systems and different types of missiles, with the capability to simultaneously track numerous incoming objects in a radius of a few hundred kilometres.
  • It can employ appropriate missile systems to launch the counter attack and to neutralise the objects with the potential of ensuring a high success rate.
  • It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).

Issues with Acquisition of S-400

  • The acquisition of S-400 by countries has taken centre stage in the American diplomacy regarding Russia.
  • U.S. believes that S-400 could access sensitive U.S. military technologies in service with the potential buyers.
  • Russia has also deployed at least two S-400 systems in Syria, which is of much concern to observers who fear the system could contribute to a global conflict breaking out in Syria.
  • Among the countries under pressure from the U.S. to not buy this weapon are India and Turkey.
  • NATO countries objected strongly to reports of Russia giving its systems to Iran and Syria.

About India’s acquisition of S-400

  • Russia had offered its highly advanced Air Defence System to India, which agreed to purchase five of the S-400 Air Defence Systems.
  • Before India, Russia had only sold this system to China even though Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Belarus were eyeing it as well.
  • This is the first time that Russia is providing a different system to India, a departure from its tradition of supplying only attacking weapons.
  • India needs high end weapons for very valid reasons. It is the only country in the world that is flanked by two nuclear armed neighbours– Pakistan and China and has fought wars with both of these countries.
  • India maintains close military relations with both United States and Russia.
  • But over the years, Russia has been the largest supplier of military weapons to India.
  • In 2012-2016, Russia (68%), US (14%) and Israel (7.2%) were the major arms suppliers to India.
  • India is the second largest market for Russia’s defence industry and Russia is the chief supplier of defence equipment to India.

What Are Oil Bonds?


Over the last one year, as retail prices of petrol, diesel and other petroleum products have surged, the government has attracted criticism. On several occasions, Finance Minister has sought to counter such criticism by claiming that the current government cannot bring down taxes (and, as a consequence, prices) because it has to pay for the oil bonds issued by the Congress-led UPA government.


GS III- Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are oil bonds? Why were they issued?
  2. How much of fuel prices is tax?
  3. How much of the UPA-era oil bonds has the NDA government paid back?

What are oil bonds? Why were they issued?

  • When fuel prices were too high for domestic consumers, governments in the past often asked oil marketing companies (OMCs) to avoid charging consumers the full price.
  • But if oil companies don’t get paid, they would become unprofitable.
  • To address this, the government said it would pay the difference.
  • But again, if the government paid that amount in cash, it would have been pointless, because then the government would have had to tax the same people to collect the money to pay the OMCs.
  • This is where oil bonds come in.

Oil bonds:

  • An oil bond is an IOU (I owe you), or a promissory note issued by the government to the OMCs, in lieu of cash that the government would have given them so that these companies don’t charge the public the full price of fuel.
  • An oil bond says the government will pay the oil marketing company the sum of, say, Rs 1,000 crore in 10 years.
  • And to compensate the OMC for not having this money straightaway, the government will pay it, say, 8% (or Rs 80 crore) each year until the bond matures.
  • Thus, by issuing such oil bonds, the government of the day is able to protect/ subsidise the consumers without either ruining the profitability of the OMC or running a huge budget deficit itself.

As Table 1 shows, when the NDA government under PM Narendra Modi took charge in 2014, there were bonds worth Rs 1.34 lakh crore that had to be paid between 2015 and 2026.

How much of fuel prices is tax?
  • There are two components to the domestic retail price — the price of crude oil itself, and the taxes levied on this basic price. Together they make up the retail price. The taxes vary from one product to another.
    • For instance, as of now, taxes account for 50% of the total retail price for a litre of petrol, and 44% for a litre of diesel.

How much of the UPA-era oil bonds has the NDA government paid back?

  • As discussed earlier, there are two components of oil bonds that need to be paid off:
    • the annual interest payment,
    • the final payment at the end of the bond’s tenure.
  • By issuing such bonds, a government can defer the full payment by 5 or 10 or 20 years, and in the interim just pay the interest costs.
  • Table 1 shows that between 2015 and 2021, the NDA government has fully paid off four sets of oil bonds — a total of Rs 13,500 crore.
  • Between 2014 and 2022, the government has had to spend a total of Rs 93,686 crore towards interest as well as the principal.

Still, isn’t it a bad idea to issue such bonds?

  • Former PM Manmohan Singh was correct in noting that issuing bonds just pushed the liability to a future generation.
  • But to a great extent, most of the government’s borrowing is in the form of bonds. This is why each year the fiscal deficit (which is essentially the level of government’s borrowing from the market) is so keenly tracked.
  • Further, in a relatively poor country like India, all governments are forced to resort to the use of bonds of some kind.
  • Take the current NDA government itself, which has issued bonds worth Rs 2.79 lakh crore (twice the amount of oil bonds) to recapitalise public sector banks.
  • These bonds will be paid by governments till 2036.

e-DAR Portal


Recently, The e-DAR portal was created by the Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways (MoRTH) (e-Detailed Accident Report).


GS II- Government policies and Intervention

Dimension of the Article:

  1. About E-DAR portal
  2. How does it work?
  3. Why is this action being taken?

About E-DAR portal

  • It was created in collaboration with insurance companies to provide instant information on road accidents with just a few clicks and to assist in the expediting of accident compensation claims, giving relief to victims’ families.
  • For simple access, digitalized Detailed Accident Reports (DAR) will be uploaded to the portal.
  • The Integrated Road Accident Database will be linked to the web portal (iRAD).
  • Applications to more than 90% of datasets would be pushed directly to the e-DAR from iRAD.
  • Stakeholders such as the police, traffic authorities, hospitals, and others are only required to fill out the e-DAR forms with extremely basic information.
  • As a result, e-DAR would be an e-version of iRAD.
  • By doing a comprehensive search of automobiles involved in the accident, the date of the accident, and the First Information Report number, the e-DAR portal would conduct several checks against false claims.

How does it work?

  • The portal will be linked to other government portals, such as Vaahan, and will provide access to information on driver’s licences and vehicle registration.
  • The portal would give geotagging of the specific accident location as well as a site map for the use of investigating officers.
  • If the portal is accessed from another location, the investigating officer will be notified of his distance from the scene of the occurrence.
  • Photos, video of the accident scene, damaged automobiles, injured people, eyewitnesses, and other information will be instantly uploaded to the Internet.
  • Aside from the state police, an engineer from the Public Works Department or a municipal authority will receive an alert on his mobile device, and the official in charge will then inspect the accident scene.

Why is this action being taken?

  • Despite our commitment and efforts, road accidents remain the biggest cause of death, disability, and hospitalisation in the country.
  • India is #1 among the 199 countries in terms of road accident mortality, accounting for over 11% of all accident-related deaths worldwide.


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