From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : RIC
Mains level : India-China border skirmishes and its de-escalation
Russia has emerged, all of a sudden, as a key diplomatic player amid the tension between India and China. It is set to host the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting.
Practice question for mains:
Q. In pursuit of a ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ with the US, India has compromised its ties with Russia. Discuss.
Raksha Mantri stepping in at RIC
- Tensions being at the peak, India will discuss supply and purchase of new defence systems — like the S-400 missile defence system — with the Russian top brass in the military and government.
- India has made this decision to reach out to Russia not just out of choice, but also out of necessity.
- Moscow has leverage and influence to shape and change Beijing’s hard stance on the border issue.
Russia: A mediator for both
- While India and China have been talking at each other — and not to each other — the outreach to Moscow is noteworthy.
- It is widely known that Russia and China have grown their relationship in the past few years.
- The Moscow-Beijing axis is crucial, especially since Washington has been at loggerheads with China in recent months and Russia much more calibrated, even in its response on the Covid-19 outbreak.
Sino-Russian ties: A response to US
- Russia and China have had a rocky start to their relationship after Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China.
- When Mao made his first visit to Moscow after winning control of China, in 1949, he was made to wait for weeks for a meeting with the Soviet leader.
- During the Cold War, China and the USSR were rivals after the Sino-Soviet split in 1961, competing for control of the worldwide Communist movement.
- There was a serious possibility of a major war in the early 1960s and a brief border war took place in 1969.
- This enmity began to reduce following Mao’s death in 1976, but relations were not very good until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
India and Russia
- India has a historical relationship with Russia, spanning over seven decades.
- While the relationship has grown in some areas and atrophied in some others, the strongest pillar of the strategic partnership is of the defence basket.
- Although New Delhi has consciously diversified its new purchases from other countries, the bulk of its defence equipment is from Russia.
- Estimates say 60 to 70 per cent of India’s supplies are from Russia, and New Delhi needs a regular and reliable supply of spare parts from the Russian defence industry.
- In fact, Prime Minister Modi has held informal summits with only two leaders — Xi and Putin.
Russia position: then & now
- During the Doklam crisis in 2017, Russian diplomats in Beijing were among the few briefed by the Chinese government.
- While Russia’s position during the 1962 war was not particularly supportive of India, New Delhi takes comfort in Moscow’s support during the 1971 war.
- On the events in Galwan, Moscow responded in a much-calibrated manner.
- Kremlin has expressed its concerns over a clash between the military on the border between China and India but believes that the two countries could resolve this conflict themselves.