(CNN) – What a difference in a few weeks. Last month, the West criticized India for its relations with Russia.
The South Asian country not only refused to condemn Moscow’s brutal attack on Ukraine, but critics said that Russia’s purchase of oil at its cut price was against sanctions that would freeze the Kremlin’s funds.
The White House also clarified its dissatisfaction, calling New Delhi “somewhat unstable” and its “disappointment”.
Then suddenly the tone of the West changed. During Biden’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this month, Diplomatic talks and c-phrases on “deep connection between our people” and “shared values”. On Friday, British President Boris Johnson flew to Delhi to pose for trade ties and costume photos while gleaming “differences” with Russia.
However, India’s position on Ukraine is largely the same. It continues to buy cheap Russian oil – in fact, it bought the whole of 2021 in the first few months of 2022. According to Reuters– and Moscow is silent in the face of the invasion. On April 7, he abstained from voting on the UN vote to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council.
According to analysts, India has provided a master class in international diplomacy to Western countries.
India was essential to US efforts to counter the Chinese uprising – which the US sees as a greater threat to world peace than Russia – and the West had to bite its tongue.
Or Harsh V., Professor of International Relations at King’s College London. As Bond said, the United States felt the need to consider India as “our new partner.”
Why is India important to the United States?
Both New Delhi and Washington are increasingly concerned about China’s growing military strength, its aggressive territorial claims to land and sea, and its growing economic influence over its smaller neighbors.
Under President Xi Jinping, China’s military – the People’s Liberation Army – has grown into the world’s largest navy, a growing arsenal of technologically advanced pirate warplanes and nuclear weapons.
Bandh, who heads the Observer Research Foundation’s strategic research group, is part of Washington’s plan to address this situation, along with India – along with the United States, Japan and Australia – in a highly functioning security group called the Quad. In New Delhi.
Meanwhile, India has its own concerns with China. The two countries are engaged in a military conflict on their common border with the Himalayas, which has claimed dozens of lives in the past two years. Moreover, as a paradox that goes unnoticed by Washington, even in the Himalayas, India relies heavily on Russian weapons to equip its military.
After the Biden-Modi meeting, shared concerns about Chinese aggression were clarified when US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned that China was trying to “reshape the region and the international community.” The operational limits of our military. “
Manoj Kevlarmani, who studies China at India’s Takshashila Institute, said it was a sign that the two countries had a deeper understanding of each other’s position – regardless of their differences on Ukraine.
Voices about China, silence about India
These concerns help explain why Washington continues to criticize China’s silence on Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
On the surface, India and China appear to have similar positions on the Ukraine war. Both have positioned themselves as neutral observers rather than direct opponents, both calling for peace, and both refusing to fully condemn the invasion.
Both have strategic ties with Russia and they do not want to be harmed.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in February that their relationship was “unlimited”, with some estimates that India receives more than 50% of its military equipment from Russia.
But these similarities are skin deep. In fact, according to Kevalramani, there are “big differences”.
China has criticized Western sanctions and repeatedly blamed the US and NATO for the conflict, echoing Russia’s view that NATO has accelerated its crisis by expanding to the east, Kevlarmani said. Its state media has also expanded on Russian arguments and misinformation.
India, on the other hand, has distanced itself from criticism of NATO and is prepared to reduce its differences with the United States. As the war progressed, so did the situation in India.
Modi talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky. S. at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore said Chinese leaders did not speak. Said Li Mingjiang, associate professor of international relations at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies. India has been harshly critical of Russia’s war crimes, Li said.
Earlier this month, the Indian ambassador to the UN condemned the killing of civilians in Pucha as “deep concern” and called for a public inquiry.
Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun, for his part, said the deaths were “deeply concerned” but urged all parties to “avoid baseless allegations” rather than blame.
Significantly, following the Biden-Modi talks, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken highlighted India’s condemnation of “civilian killings in Ukraine” and its “humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people.”
A complicated relationship
The United States may also recognize that India’s relationship with Russia has historically followed a very different course than that of the West. “India’s relations with Russia have been developing for decades, at a time when the United States can no longer be a partner with India,” Blingen said.
This seemed to refer to the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, when India would not officially join. However, in the 1970s, when the US began providing military and financial assistance to its neighbor Pakistan, India sided with the Soviet Union.
It was then that Russia began supplying arms to India, and to this day India relies heavily on Russia for military supplies.
In 2018, India signed a $ 5 billion arms deal with Russia for an air defense missile system, a federal law passed by the United States in 2017 through Washington sanctions, despite the possibility that it could put its opponents at the crossroads of law. New sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea.
India’s dependence on Russian weapons restricts its ability to condemn Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. When Putin visited Delhi last December, Modi went so far as to call Putin a “dear friend”.
“Respect from all sides”
Bandh said all this has led India to become “justified by all parties”.
Moscow still agrees and India is ready to sell oil at a further discount. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with his foreign minister in Delhi this month and praised India for not treating the Ukraine war “unilaterally.”
Relations with the West have grown even closer since Modi’s election in 2014. The annual trade between India and the United States exceeds $ 110 billion, and India’s trade with Russia is about $ 8,000 million. In recent years, India has also become a major customer of US military equipment.
However, Biden’s meeting with Modi was tinged with unrest. The US president urged his Indian envoy not to increase his use of Russian oil in his country, and instead offered to help him get oil from elsewhere. India, which imports 80% of its oil needs, does not receive more than 3% from Russia.
So it looks like India has reached an amazing balance.
“In fact, India is coming out of this crisis very strongly,” Bandh said. “It’s really an achievement.”
CNN’s Manveena Suri and Hannah Richie contributed to this analysis.
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