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Tightrope

At a time when Russia and China are strengthening their ties, Europe is making a fresh attempt to bolster its relations with the US. Amidst such a scenario, it has become increasingly difficult for India to maintain balance in its Foreign Policy. According to seasoned Indian diplomats, New Delhi shall have to take very careful steps in the coming years.

On February 26 (2022), the UN Security Council met in emergency session to debate and vote on an important resolution, deploring the Russian military’s brutal and unprovoked (?) invasion of its democratic neighbour, Ukraine. Unfortunately, India chose to abstain, despite the overwhelming majority of nations siding with Ukraine against Russian aggression. At the same time, India sent relief supplies to Ukraine as a humanitarian gesture. A section of diplomats is of the opinion that those, guiding the Indian Foreign Policy, surely must understand that it is a fight to defend Democracy from Authoritarianism.

Earlier on February 4, Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping announced that Moscow and Beijing would face each and every Global Challenge, together. And on February 7, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met US President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr at the White House mainly to discuss the formation of an anti-China bloc. The visiting German leader would like Europe and the US to join the bloc, in an attempt to counter the aggressive foreign policy of the Asian Giant.

President Putin (R) with President Xi (L)

In a nutshell, Russia and China, and the US and some European countries are all set to form two powerful blocs. The Indian diplomats are worried about the South Asian country’s diplomatic position in such a polarised world. According to a large section of political analysts, India has no control over the scenario, and everything depends on various situations. They believe that India’s strategic moves shall depend on relations between the two developing blocs in the near future.

At the same time, India’s own bilateral ties with China, Russia and the US are also very important. The mutual rivalry between these three great powers is taking a new turn at such a juncture, when India’s relationship with China is constantly deteriorating. New Delhi is now being forced to lean more towards the West than usual. On February 12, foreign ministers of the QUAD (or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a strategic security dialogue between the US, India, Japan and Australia) held a meeting in Melbourne to discuss various aspects of Russia-China friendship. According to diplomats, the US might have considered India as a valuable partner in Asia because of China’s aggressive diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific Region, allowing New Delhi to bargain hard with Russia. However, the path seems to be complicated enough.

Chancellor Scholz with President Biden (R)

Meanwhile, the US has warned that India would face significant challenges from China in the coming months. In its Indo-Pacific Strategic Report released on February 11, the Biden Administration mentioned that China would put India under significant pressure over the border issue, and the Narendra Modi Government in New Delhi would have to tackle the diplomatic, as well as geopolitical, challenges. In this report, the White House stated that the US would help India overcome the crisis.

Watch: What’s Next for the China-Russia Relationship?

The report read: “We (the US) recognise that India is a like-minded partner and leader in South Asia and the Indian Ocean, active in and connected to Southeast Asia, a driving force of the QUAD and other regional fora, and an engine for regional growth and development.” It added: “But India faces very significant challenges. China’s behaviour on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has had a galvanising impact on India. From our standpoint, we see tremendous opportunities in working with another democracy – with a country that has a maritime tradition that understands the importance of the global commons – to advance critical issues in the region.” Addressing a media conference, a senior White House Official said: “There is tremendous appreciation of the importance and the challenges of strengthening the engagement with India and a recognition that India is a critical strategic partner, and a desire to continue building on the very good work of previous administrations to significantly broaden and deepen that relationship.

QUAD leaders

As far as China is concerned, the Report stated: “China is combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological might as it pursues a sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific and seeks to become the world’s most influential power.” It further mentioned that the Chinese coercion and aggression spanned the globe, but it was most acute in the Indo-Pacific Region. That is why Washington DC has decided to bolster ties with New Delhi.

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