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The comrades and their divergent perspectives


Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently asserted that both the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, are “responsible” enough to solve issues between their countries, while underlining the need to debar any “extra-regional power” to interfere in the process.


GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Polices and developments affecting India’s Interests)

Mains Questions:

How will Russia’s uncritical advocacy of China’s global vision affect India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific? (10 marks)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Russian Conundrum: The Quad and Indo-Pacific factor
  2. The recent issues and India – Russia relations
  3. Back to the Basics: What is the Quad grouping?
  4. Russia-India-China Grouping (RIC)
  5. Indo-Pacific Region
  6. Fundamental difference of Quad and Indo-Pacific:

Russian Conundrum: The Quad and Indo-Pacific factor

  • Russia’s remarks urging to avoid “extra-regional power” to interfere in the process of resolution of issues between India and China can only be seen as reinforcing China’s claim that the Quadrilateral or Quad (comprising India, the United States, Japan and Australia) is aimed at containing Beijing’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • In fact, Russia’s recent comments can be seen as the assertion of its previous comments advising India to take a “larger look at Chinese foreign policies”, while describing the Indo-Pacific strategy as an effort to revive the Cold War mentality.
  • Russia’s continued criticism of the Indo-Pacific and the Quad give ample evidence of the divergent perspectives of New Delhi and Russia on how to deal with China’s rise to global prominence. Russia has rejected the Indo-Pacific construct in favour of the Asia-Pacific on the ground that the first is primarily an American initiative designed to contain both China and Russia.
  • Previously Russian foreign minister had termed the Quad — as “Asian NATO”. In an unmistakable indication of India’s attempt to reimagine a new geostrategic maritime role for itself. Indian Foreign Minister responded saying that no country can have a veto on India’s participation in the Quad and that incorporation of the Indo-Pacific concept in Indian diplomacy means that India can no longer be confined between the Malacca Strait and Gulf of Aden.
  • The Russians may have their reasons to remain blind to China’s growing aggressiveness, but the Indians have learned to expect at Chinese hands an unremitting effort to undermine India’s global position — to destroy their confidence in themselves and the confidence of others in them — and to reduce India to a state of isolation and impotence in global affairs.

The recent issues and India – Russia relations

  • Alignment with US: India aligning with US in the Quad in the Indo-Pacific strategy is one of the key issues between India and Russia.
  • India insists that its Indo-Pacific initiatives seek a cooperative order, that the Quad dialogue (of India, Japan, Australia and the U.S.) is not the nucleus of a politico-military alliance.
  • Russia – China friendship: Russia accounted for 77% of China’s arms imports in 2016-20 and India has raised apprehensions about their technology- and intelligence-sharing.
  • Russia – Pakistan angle: Russian foreign minister recently visited Pakistan and highlighted that Russia would strengthen Pakistan’s “counter-terrorism capability”. This is being seen as a step to increase the Russian weapon supply to Pakistan. Russia is Pakistan’s second largest defense supplier, accounting for 6.6% of its arms imports in 2016-20. Further both are cooperating on joint “counter-terrorism” drills and sharing perspectives on military tactics and strategic doctrines.
  • New cold war: US is taking on both China and Russia thereby driving the two together and this is accelerating the move to bipolarity towards a new cold war.

Back to the Basics: What is the Quad grouping?

  • The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) also known as Quad, is an Inter-governmental security forum. It comprises of 4 countries– India, the United States, Japan and Australia. The member countries of the Quad organise summits, exchanges the information and military drills.
  • In the year 2007, Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe proposed the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. The forum was joined by the Vice President of the US Dick Cheney, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It was paralleled by joint military exercises of an unprecedented scale with the name Exercise Malabar.
  • India’s past experiment: Over the years, India has experimented with alliances of different kinds:
  • During World War I, some nationalists aligned with imperial Germany to set up the first Indian government-in-exile in Kabul.
  • During World War II, Subhas Chandra Bose joined forces with imperial Japan to set up a provisional government in Port Blair.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru, who unveiled and championed non-alignment, signed security treaties with Bhutan, Nepal, and Sikkim. Also, Nehru, who actively opposed American alliances in Asia, turned to the US for military support in 1962.
The "Quad" Counter to China 

Russia-India-China Grouping (RIC)

  • RIC is a strategic grouping that first took shape in the late 1990s under the leadership of Yevgeny Primakov, a Russian politician as “a counterbalance to the Western alliance.”
  • The group was founded on the basis of ending its subservient foreign policy guided by the USA and renewing old ties with India and fostering the newly discovered friendship with China.
  • Together, the RIC countries occupy over 19% of the global landmass and contribute to over 33% of global GDP.
  • Even though India, China and Russia may disagree on a number of security issues in Eurasia, there are areas where their interests converge, like, for instance, on Afghanistan. RIC can ensure stable peace in Afghanistan and by extension, in Central Asia.

Indo-Pacific Region

  • The “Indo-Pacific” idea was originally conceived in 2006- 07. The term ‘IndoPacific’ combines the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Western Pacific Region (WP) – inclusive of the contiguous seas off East Asia and Southeast Asia – into a singular regional construct.
  • The idea has gained eminence in recent times due to:
    • Increasing geopolitical connect between the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific in both the geo-economics
    • Eastward shift of the world’s economic “centre of gravity” towards the Asian continent .
    • Growing Eminence of India
    • Politico-military aggressiveness of China.
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Fundamental difference of Quad and Indo-Pacific:

  • The Indo-Pacific a politico-economic vision and the Quad is a military-strategic vision however the Quad does not form the military or strategic nucleus of the Indo-Pacific.
  • While the Indo-Pacific provides a complex political and economic picture with a hesitant, but growing, articulation of China as a strategic challenge, the Quad is inherently more anti-China in character and intent.

India’s Vision for Indo-Pacific: In the Shangri La Dialogue, India embraced the concept of IndoPacific and highlighted following points-

  • It stands for a free, open, inclusive region, which embraces all in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity. It includes all nations in this geography as also others beyond who have a stake in it.
  • Southeast Asia is at its Centre. And ASEAN central to its future.
  • Evolve, through dialogue, a common rules-based order for the region. These rules and norms should be based on the consent of all, not on the power of the few.
  • Rather than growing protectionism, India seeks for a level playing field for all. India stands for open and stable international trade regime.
  • Connectivity is vital and India is doing its part, by itself and in partnership with others like Japan – in South Asia and Southeast Asia, in the Indian Ocean, Africa, West Asia and beyond.

India’s view can be summarized into five S in Hindi: Samman (respect); Samvad (dialogue); Sahyog (cooperation), Shanti (peace), and Samridhi (prosperity)

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023