Putin-Modi Meeting Strengthens Russia’s Hand In Biden Summit
The presumption that London and Washington DC had cemented India into an anti-China straitjacket was shaken up by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India on December 6, 2021, and by the follow-up ‘2+2’ meetings of Foreign and Defence Ministers of the two countries. It seems that the Historic Alliance of India and Russia is still very much alive, while Russia simultaneously maintains a healthy relationship with China. As Andrey Kortunov, the Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, put it: “India is on par with China in the current National Security Strategy (of Russia), and both countries are a top priority for Moscow.”
Negotiations are set to begin on a trade agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and India, according to TASS. Also, India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh met his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu, signing a 10-year pact on military cooperation, which includes the joint production of 600,000 AK-203 assault rifles at an Indian facility. Izvestia quoted Kortunov as saying: “There is competition for the Indian military equipment market. But Russia has a strong position here, and I hope that it will continue.”
Meanwhile, Sputnik quoted Rahul Bhonsle, a Security Analyst and former Brigadier of the Indian Army as saying: “This is a major signal to Washington DC that despite the CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) sword in the background, India is not likely to reel back defence imports of Russian equipment in the near to mid term.” During CAATSA’s four years, India’s defence contracts with Russia have gone from USD 2-3 billion to USD 9-10 billion. Sputnik also cited Professor Harsh V Pant, the Director of the Strategic Studies Programme at the New Delhi-based think-tank Observer Research Foundation: “India and Russia already have very extensive defence engagement. They are hopeful that this trajectory continues because for Russia, it is important that India remains one of the most important defence buyers. For India, it is important that Russia remains engaged with India, and does not really abandon its relationship with India in favour of China.”
Alexey Kupriyanov, the Head of the Group on South Asia and Indian Ocean at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, has told Izvestia: “The shift of India and Russia to the ‘2+2’ arrangement implies that Moscow is no less vital a partner for New Delhi than Washington DC.” Dr Sandeep Tripathi, the Founder and President of the Forum for Global Studies, has made a similar point, stressing: “The 2+2 talks will dilute the existing hurdles and hedges between Russia and India that evolved under the new geopolitical clout, i.e., India’s alignment with the QUAD (or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a strategic dialogue between the US, India, Japan and Australia) and Moscow’s closer ties with Beijing.” This is coherent with the contention of India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, that, in an ever-changing world, India-Russia ties remain close and stable.
Finally, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov didn’t hesitate to state: “We expressed our concern about the activities taking place in this region under the slogan of Indo-Pacific strategies, where we see non-inclusive blocs.” However, according to Sputnik, Lavrov summed up, saying that New Delhi and Moscow had identical positions on the world’s most important political and military issues.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden is all set to hold the Summit for Democracy on December 9 and 10, and officials from more than 120 countries would take part in the event. The US President did not invite China, Russia and some other countries to attend the virtual two-day Summit.
Boundless Ocean of Politics has received this article from Christopher Lewis of Schiller Institute, Frankfurt, Germany.
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