This content was released on 01 March 2022 – 10:01
Experts say the Russian invasion of Ukraine is undermining India’s traditional policy of balance between the West and Russia, pushing New Delhi into a difficult diplomatic situation.
Last week, India, like China and the United Arab Emirates, joined the UN in condemning Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine.
Russia, which vetoed the resolution using its powers as a permanent member of the Security Council, praised New Delhi for its “independent and balanced” position.
But India believed that position would be seen as an expression of neutrality, which was explained by many countries as practical support for Russia.
There are also reports that India wants to enter into a currency trade agreement with Russia, undermining Western efforts to isolate Moscow from the World Financial Organization.
This crisis puts India in an old predicament. Indian diplomacy was very close to the Soviet Union, which left its arch-enemy Pakistan in the Western camp during the Cold War.
These liquid links survived the fall of the Iron Curtain, and Russia is its largest arms supplier.
India needs the support of the West against China and its leader Xi Jinping, who seeks to extend its influence in the Indian Ocean – amid controversy between the two countries that sparked deadly conflicts in 2020.
With the United States, Japan and Australia, the country is part of the Quad Alliance, which is designed to counter China’s growing influence in the region.
His decision to abstain from the UN referendum on Friday put India in the same camp as China.
“India does not have many options,” said Nandan Unnikrishnan, an expert at the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank.
“The country is as interested in its relationship with Russia as it is in its relationship with the United States,” he told the AFP.
Unnikrishna explained that the country was facing challenges in the maritime sector, which needed the United States and Russia’s assistance on the continent.
– Bear Hug –
Putin, who visited India on an extraordinary trip last year, once embraced even Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a symbol of strengthening military and energy ties and once excited the country.
India is the second largest arms buyer in the world after Saudi Arabia and, according to Business Standard, between 49.4% of arms imports came from Russia between 2016 and 2020.
Russia began offering the S-400 missile defense system last weekend, and India agreed to buy it in 2018 for $ 5 billion, despite the threat of US sanctions.
At a time when New Delhi is seeking to develop its own weapons capabilities and diversify supplies, US imports are only 11%.
India – with a population of 1.4 billion – is heavily dependent on Russian oil. Bilateral trade is close to $ 9,000 million, with India exporting to Russia the most common items in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as other sectors such as tea and coffee.
Diplomatically, Russia continues to veto all UN resolutions condemning India’s actions in Kashmir, which has been plagued by decades of violent insurgency.
According to Happyman Jacob of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Russia is the country’s “only permanent partner” north of its borders.
– Conflict between East and West –
One of the most responsible characters in the world concert is the UN. When New Delhi wants a permanent seat on the Security Council, it must act with caution and avoid openly condemning Russia.
So far he has refrained from referring to Moscow’s actions as an invasion, but instead to local aspects of the crisis, such as the expulsion of Indian students from Ukraine.
The United States has not openly expressed its anger, saying instead that the two countries have a “relationship” that Washington does not have with India and calls on Delhi to use its “influence” with Moscow.
But former officials were very outspoken, for example, calling former US ambassador Richard Haas “India’s policy of a careful response to avoid annoying Putin at any cost.”
He added that the country was “not yet ready to rise as a responsible force and a reliable partner”.
According to analyst Sanjay Baru, Western nations need to take a more lenient view of India’s relations with Russia, precisely because of its role in confronting China.
He wrote in the Times of India, “Only a movement India can face China’s aggression.
“There is no reason for India to be a sideline in a conflict between the East and the West, based on Europe and the continuation of the Cold War,” he added.
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