India puts national interests first to stick with Russia

In December of last year, an increasingly isolated Vladimir Putin left Russia for the second time during the pandemic. His destination is New Delhi, and his focus is on preparing for future conflicts.

The Russian president told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Moscow works with New Delhi in “the military and technical fields like no other country”, and called India “a tested friend with time” when he signed a new 10-year defense cooperation agreement. Agreement.

This friendship will be put to the test just eight weeks after the Russian military invaded Ukraine, prompting India to try to rescue more than 15,000 citizens, mostly students, studying in the country.

While Western nations condemn Russia’s aggression, New Delhi’s allegiance to its longtime partner stands firm. Last week, India, as an interim member of the United Nations Security Council, abstained from a resolution condemning Russia’s aggression, along with China and the UAE.

Analysts say India believes there is no benefit to alienating Russia, which depends on vital commodities such as energy and fertilizers, while it considers neighboring China, also a co Russia’s alliance is a much larger strategic threat. Russia’s support is seen as crucial to managing India’s unending confrontation with China on the northern Himalayan border following deadly skirmishes in 2020.

“Here in Delhi, Russia always [seen as] Constantino Xavier, a fellow at the Center for Economic and Social Progress in New Delhi. “From India’s point of view, the single actor will become stronger [from the war in Ukraine] is China. ”

Although Modi appeal to Putin “to end the violence immediately,” in a phone call on the day the war began, Indian officials shied away from blaming the Russian president. Instead, New Delhi remains in contact with both Moscow and Kyiv as they prioritize evacuation operations for its citizens on Ukraine’s western border.

India’s partnership with Russia dates back to the early days of independence after 1947, when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru drew inspiration for parts of his socialist economy from the Soviet era.

Despite being “non-aligned” during the Cold War, India grew close to the Soviet Union as the United States moved toward arch-enemy Pakistan. Importantly, the Soviet Union was credit as helped India win the 1971 war with Pakistan over Bangladesh.

India’s ties with the US and Europe have strengthened since the end of the cold war and India – a member of the Quad Security Partnership with the US, Japan and Australia – is seen as a Western ally. indispensable and counterweight to China in Asia.

Besieged by enemies on its northern border, India’s geographical position means it cannot depend on distant Western support. India has “on the one hand China and on the other Pakistan, both have nuclear activated” tweeted Uday Kotak on Sunday. Bank CEO Kotak Mahindra and one of India’s richest billionaires added that “our reliance on Russian military equipment and [that the] America is so far away, we have challenges.”

“India watches Russia-China relations very closely,” said Tanvi Madan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “What they saw over the years was an increasingly close relationship. They don’t want to push Putin further into China’s arms.”

Madan argues that Modi’s reluctance to criticize Putin – consistent with a decades-long foreign policy – is well understood at home. “Any other Indian government could do the same thing,” she said. Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has also refrained from condemning Russia.

Moscow remains India’s most important military supplier. Russian tanks, aircraft and other heavy weapons are deployed on India’s Himalayan border, and countries are also cooperating in the production of weapons in India.

About 65% of arms delivered to India between 1950 and 2020 are from the Soviet Union/Russia, an estimated $83.4 billion out of a total of $126.7 billion, data compiled by the National Institute for Peace Studies Stockholm economic collection shows.

When Putin arrived in India in December, so did the delivery of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system, part of a $5.4 billion deal signed two years earlier to challenge Washington.

Observers say Moscow now needs its allies, such as India and China, to help ease the pressure of Western financial sanctions.

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Although Russia-India bilateral trade has only worth about 8 billion dollars Last financial year, Indian businesses with links to Russia lobbied the government to let them continue to trade with their counterparts, said a person familiar with the matter. The Treasury Department declined to comment.

While India trades with Russia in dollars, “there is talk of a return to the rupee-rule trade that used to be the norm,” said Biswajit Dhar, a Jawaharlal Nehru University professor who specializes in trade. about the period from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Strengthening bilateral banking, there are two finance companies affiliated with the government of India in Russia – Indo Commercial Bank60% ownership by State Bank of India, and reinsurer GIC Perestrakhovanie LLCwholly owned by Insurance Corporation of India.

The Indian government has not yet informed Indian lenders what to do with the sanctioned Russian banks. But India was previously willing to ignore Western sanctions, creating a payment mechanism for Iranian imports.

Instead of following Western restrictions, Mr. Dhar said he believes India will prioritize its trade relationship with Russia: “All these paths will be explored, whatever can help. continue commercial relations. Everything will be used. ”

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