It was in June 2020. The tension at India China Border was high. The defense minister of India visited Russia. The purpose was to strengthen India’s position both at the diplomatic ends and on the battlefield. Delhi thought that it can use its old ties with Russia.
But Is Russia us in this position that it can influence one of the most emerging economies of the world. Another million-dollar question is why Russia will do so. Let us find the answers to some of the most popular questions of International politics right now.
A common misconception in India’s relations with Russia is that “there are historical ties between the two countries and if India has a quarrel with any country, Russia will come to India’s aid.” But in reality, things are not so easy.
Russia is well aware that India is a democracy, while China is a kind of dictatorship. Therefore, Russia considers its relations with India to be more friendly and this is the case with India and Russia on the basis of old close relations. But the situation has changed in the last decade. Russia’s relations with China are getting stronger.
The situation is no less challenging for Russia. The population is smaller than Pakistan and its area is very large which extends from Europe to Asia. The United States has bases all over the world, but the challenge for Russia is to save such a large area with the help of technology, so it cannot tolerate the atmosphere of hostility around its borders. Russia does not want tension at the eastern border with China. China takes advantage of it. Russia, on the other hand, is at odds with the United States and some of its European allies. In that case, Russia has limited options.
India is trying to bring new dimensions to its relations with Russia, as relations between the two countries are now limited to defense. Elsewhere, the two countries have more differences, such as China and Russia being closer to each other on the Indo-Pacific strategy. That is why the dialogue between India and Russia is so important. India would like Russia to put some pressure on China so that China stays calm in Ladakh.
The Indian ambassador in Moscow had also raised India’s concerns with Russia some time ago and Russia had assured him that if India’s dispute with China escalated, all efforts would be made to resolve it peacefully.
The relations between China and Russia
Russia has been imagining a multipolar world, but in this case, China has a long-standing ideological difference with Russia. Russia is closer to India. At the same time, if there is a conflict between China and India, Russia’s international situation will also be affected, and Russia understands that. It is clear in the minds of those in power in Russia that on the day India breaks up, Russia will have the most trouble with China because Central Asia, which was once part of the Soviet Union, is gradually being dominated by China.
Russia looks smaller when Russia and China stand together. There is a lot of trade going on between the two countries now, but today the relationship between the two is such that Russia is ready to happily stand with China, even as the No. 2 or smaller partner.
Russia also has no objection to this because it considers the United States a major problem and has agreed to seek China’s help in managing it. But the problem for India is different because India wants to strike a balance between the three countries with the help of Russia after the tip-off from China.
As per the agreements between Russia and India is that if there is a security challenge between the two countries, the two countries will consult with each other. The Defense Minister’s visit to Russia can also be seen in this context.
Can Russia put pressure on China for India?
There is a common belief in India that Russia can ‘threaten’ and control China but the reality is entirely different.
Russia is a weak power that desperately needs China’s help to stand up. Russia’s economy is in dire straits and it needs China’s help. In such a situation, India should see with open eyes that India is an important partner for Russia, but it is not in a position to support India unilaterally.
Russia will use diplomatic language like any other country. If tensions between India and China escalate or a minor war breaks out, Russia will be very useful because India has a large number of Russian weapons and machines and will be able to maintain and repair them.” Therefore, India will need Russia very much. Therefore, India has no option but to anger Russia.
For Russia, this confrontation has a dual meaning. On the one hand, relations with China are extremely important for Russia from any point of view. On the other hand, it is necessary for China to have a counterweight and not gain too much strength. China in this way can partially balance the United States with its irrepressible aggressiveness, and India can balance China.
Russia is actively and profitably pumping up India with weapons and military technology. Some examples are hundreds of Su-30 assembled in India, Bramos missiles (practically the same Onyx), joint work on the Bramos-2 hypersonic missile based on Zircon. Until now, the Indian fleet has a lot of domestically built ships, including one aircraft carrier (and Russia helped India with the second), and more than one Indian admiral has grown on domestic nuclear submarines.
In the future, relations with India may become even more important – this is how India buys liquefied gas well, and Russia is investing in its liquefaction capacity. And the nuclear power industry also has a huge potential, where the level of Russia is still unattainable.
Russia can get benefit greatly from the normalization of relations between India and China – but it is high time to admit that this is impossible. Any increase in Chinese pressure on India will put Russia in front of a difficult choice – which of the partners to “hand over” to the other partner. And it will inevitably weaken the political positions of Moscow in the world.