India’s relations with Russia are stable. But Moscow’s tight embrace of China makes it cautious


President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping of China prepare to leave for the closing session of the BRICS Summit at Taj Exotica Hotel in Goa on October 16, 2016. (Prakash Singh/AFP via Getty Images)

Prakash Singh | AFP | Getty Images

India’s relations with Russia remain stable as both sides seek to further deepen their economic ties. But Moscow has also drawn closer to Beijing since invading Ukraine, and that raises significant national security concerns for New Delhi.

Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar recently said that the country is ready to resume free trade talks with Russia.

“Our partnership is the subject of attention and comment today, not because it has changed, but because it has not changed,” They saiddescribing the relationship as “the most stable in the world”.

Russia also wants “Accelerate” free trade discussions with India, Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov said during his visit to Delhi. Manturov is also the trade minister of Moscow.

Despite a show of economic cooperation, India’s leaders are “watching carefully” as Russia becomes more isolated and moves closer to “China’s corner”, a study at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation on Foreign Affairs and Policy found. Harsh V. Pant, Vice President, said- based think tank.

He told CNBC that Russia’s “weak and vulnerable position” and growing dependence on China for economic and strategic reasons would definitely be worrying for India.

“It is becoming more difficult with each passing day because of the closeness that we are seeing between Beijing and Moscow,” Pant said. “The pressure is mounting on India, it certainly would not like to see that happen.”

Pant said New Delhi would try as much as possible to avoid a possible “Russia-China alliance or pivot”. “Because it will have far-reaching consequences and will fundamentally change India’s foreign policy and strategic calculus.”

there are national interest reasons This FTA is part of why India continues to buy cheap Russian oil and trade with them, said Sriram Chaulia, dean of the Jindal School of International Affairs in New Delhi.

But it appears that “this relationship is going down from a very high-value strategic partnership to a transactional one,” he said, adding that Moscow’s “tight embrace of China” does not bode well for India’s national security needs. Is.

India, which holds the current G-20 presidency, has still not condemned Russia on top invasion of Ukraine.

A Trusted Partner?

in his latest foreign policy theory Published in late March, Russia noted that it would “continue to build a particularly privileged strategic partnership” with India.

New Delhi’s long-standing ties with Moscow date back to the Cold War. it remains too dependent on the Kremlin for its military equipment. This defense cooperation is important India’s tension on the Himalayan border ORF’s Pant said that China is becoming increasingly assertive.

but russia could not give critical defense supplies Analysts said he had made commitments to India’s military because of the Ukraine war, which could have strained relations.

in March, indian armed forces admitted in a report to a parliamentary committee that “major deliveries” from Russia were not going to happen. “They have given us in writing that they are not able to complete it,” the IAF official said. The specifics of the delivery were not mentioned in the report.

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“Russia has already delayed Delivery of S-400 “Anti-missile delivery system to India due to pressure from Ukraine war,” said Chaulia of the Jindal School. “So, there’s a big question mark over Russia’s credibility.”

Historically, India’s reliance on Moscow was seen as “helping deter China’s aggression” to maintain a stable balance of power against Beijing, he said.

Now, the country cannot expect Russia to “play the same strategic role for India as it did before the Ukraine war. This is due to the technological degradation of its military and its weakened position as a result of the war,” he said. .

‘No Limit’ Partnership

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A “Russian tilt” in favor of Beijing “would be clearly bad for India” if a war broke out between the two countries, said Felix K. Chang said.

Even without war, “China’s warm relations with Russia could encourage Beijing to more strongly pursue its interests in South Asia, whether along the disputed Himalayan border or with India’s surrounding neighbours. ” He wrote in April. “That too could change the balance of power between China and India and lead to more regional tensions.”

So India needs to “pick up momentum” in its embrace of the West, Chang said, “given how close the Russian-Ukrainian war has brought China and Russia.”

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ORF’s Pant said, the West recognizes the challenge India faces in the Indo-Pacific region, “given its defense ties with Russia, Beijing needs Moscow to manage in the short to medium term.”

“Perhaps it is this sensibility that is driving Western outreach to India, despite differences over Ukraine,” he said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be joined by US President Joe Biden and his counterparts from Australia and Japan 3rd Quad Leaders’ Summit May 24 in Sydney, quad is one informal security The alignment of the four major democracies forged in response to China’s growing power in the Indo-Pacific region.

While the US “views China as the main challenger to America’s global preeminence, it does not view India that way,” said Rajan Menon, director of the grand strategy program at the Washington-based think tank Defense Priorities.

“On the contrary, it looks at India nowadays as a partner to balance China,” he said.

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Menon said, “This overlapping strategic interest explains why Washington has not reacted to India’s alignment with Moscow in the same way as China’s ‘no-limits’ friendship with Russia.”

Pant said that as far as Russia is concerned, how it balances this evolving India-China equation will be its biggest test.

He said, “It will be interesting to see how this triangle works. In the past, it worked because there was this common sense among the three countries to talk of a multipolar world, where US unipolarity was the goal.”

Pant said, “Today, for India, China’s attempt to build hegemony in the Indo-Pacific is a target. Russia and China have different priorities from India.” As far as New Delhi is concerned, “Russia’s ability to manage India and China will be under scrutiny.”

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