Discussion on the Russia-Ukraine war at Brac University

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Discussion on the Russia-Ukraine war at Brac University

On Monday, April 4th, a discussion on the Russia-Ukraine war was conducted at the Brac University campus to explore the war’s impact on the Bangladesh economy. Brac University Business and Economics Forum, a student-run group of Brac University, arranged the event in partnership with the Youth Researchers Development Forum (YRDF). Mr. Shamim Ehsanul Haque, Assistant Professor at Brac Business School, and Mr. Sifat Islam Ishty, Senior Lecturer of Economics at Brac University, were among the speakers at the event. Dr. David Dowland, Registrar at Brac University, was also in attendance as a guest, and the distinguished persons expressed their valued perspectives on the issue at hand by engaging students in a lively conversation.

Mr. Sifat Islam Ishty, the first speaker, emphasized the importance of Bangladesh’s trading links with both Ukraine and Russia, particularly with the latter. With geopolitical pressure from India and China on top of that, Bangladesh has chosen to remain neutral in this war in order to limit commercial harm. He went on to discuss the growing inflation rate and the plethora of effects of the ongoing conflict. Some of the issues he veered towards were exports stalled at the Chittagong port, the increasing account deficit, and how the SWIFT embargo on Russian banks is harming Bangladesh. He described the current scenario as “a very vicious economic cycle.” The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is a big Russian project that will cost 12.65 billion USD and be completed by 2025. The ongoing war and economic sanctions against Russia, according to the orator, may force this costly project to be delayed, resulting in cost rises in Bangladesh. This means larger debts and a higher financial load on the government. 

The distinguished speakers explored the impact of the invasion on Bangladeshi firms and their flexibility. They noted that businesses who are finding out innovative means of exchanging goods and services, such as third-party payment systems, are doing well. The speakers focused on the RMG industry’s exports, which are valued at over 32 billion USD, because it is Bangladesh’s largest export business and Russia is a significant market for it. 

Mr. Shamim Ehsanul Haque held comparable positions with Mr. Sifat Islam Ishty. He discussed a basic overview and statistics of the conflict, including casualties from both sides. He stated that this battle is approaching a state of “mutual destruction.” Mr. Shamim expressed fear that the effect on the Russian energy industry will inevitably have economic consequences for Bangladeshi enterprises due to their reliance on it. According to him, commercial and diplomatic relations with the EU are also contingent on the outcome of this war, which should be a source of concern for Bangladesh. 
The immensely enlightening conversation concluded with a desire for rapid negotiations and collaboration amongst all countries engaged in bringing this horrible conflict to an end as quickly as possible. Bangladesh’s neutral status may complicate efforts to control our commercial links with both states. Diplomacy may result in the world powers’ abandoning Bangladesh if the conflict continues. The impact is projected to become more severe. 

BracU Xpress served as the on-campus media partner for this event, while Youth Researchers Development Forum (YRDF) served as the featured partner, and Redland Digital served as the content partner. Additionally, radio station Dhaka FM 90.8 was present for post-show coverage, and Shomoy TV was present as a media partner.