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Time for India to Redefine Its Relationship With Russia

Context

India’s relationship with Russia is in tough waters as the Russia Ukraine Conflict is looming large. India’s foreign policy may be tested in such a situation.

Relevance

GS-II: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Dimensions of the Article

  • Foreign Policy Conundrum
  • The Strategic Challenge
  • Russia: Confused or Unpredictable?
  • Way Forward

Foreign Policy Conundrum

  • Ukraine’s coziness with NATO was infuriating for Russia but was not sufficient enough to invade the nation.
  • India has abstained from voting on various resolutions at the UNGA and the UNSC.
  • Memories of 1971 war is still fresh in the mind of Indians which reflects.
  • Western Countries have criticized India’s abstinence.
  • Russia has praised India for a neutral and balanced position.
  • Major issues for India comes from the Russian end which expects India’s support in the swamp of sanctions.
  • India too is placed in  precarious situation where Russian imports may attract criticism at the global stage whereas refraining from it may cause imported inflation in the economy.
  • Russia’s reputation is taking a hit too with the prolonged invasion and is exposing the hollowness of military preparedness and planning.
  • Russia is also appearing as a bully. In such a situation it’s tough for India to hold Russia’s hand unless it comes up with some strategic maneuver.

The Strategic Challenge

  • Sanctions on Russia are crippling its economy and this might push Russia into the military and economic orbit of China.
  • Geopolitically too Russia’s dependence on China would increase.
  • China’s rise in Indo-Pacific is already a concern for India and it can’t afford a historical ally being pushed into Chinese influence.
  • While US would assist in countering China, Russian misadventures might not bode well.
  • Doctrine of Multi-Alignment has been adopted by India in dealing with the major powers.
  • India has been against a Unipolar world order and has checked US’ ambition with help of Russia and China at the end of the cold war.
  • However, times now have changed where Russia remains an important arms supplier but relations with US have tremendously improved.
  • China on the other hand now is a rival in the region.
  • Navigating these tough geopolitical waters is going to be tough for India.

Russia: Confused or Unpredictable?

  • Objective of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is still not clear.
  • Furthermore, India’s friendship might not be valued as highly as expected.
  • Bully image of Russia makes the times ahead very uncertain and hence India can’t depend on Russia.
  • While Russia is sharply critical of India’s engagements with the U.S and the Quad, it has itself moved closer to Beijing.

Way Forward

Tough times lie ahead for India’s diplomatic might and geopolitical engagements. The balancing act that India prefers is not going to be easy going forward if the west hardens its position. India needs to radically redefine its relationship with Russia with a strategic maneuver in its best interest.

Source – The Hindu

February 2023
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