Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

India and the Great Power rivalry

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AUKUS

Mains level : Paper 2- Challenges for India as world moves toward bloc politics

Context

Germany has become a weaker link in the Western coalition against Moscow and Beijing.

The US-Russia-China power dynamics

  • There is a convergence between China and Russia on a range of issues from NATO expansion to the AUKUS alliance. 
  • Despite their problems with the US, both Moscow and Beijing want a productive partnership with Washington.
  • Both Russia and China want to leverage the united front to negotiate better terms from America.
  • Exploiting the contradiction between Russia and China: Washington, in turn, wants to explore the cleavages between Moscow and Beijing.
  • Focus on challenges from China: Biden’s outreach to Putin last year was based on the premise that the US could better focus on the challenges from China in the Indo-Pacific if there was a reasonable relationship with Russia in Europe.
  • Putin is trying to take advantage of that proposition by raising the stakes in Europe.
  • Exploiting economic means: If Putin is focused on military means to rewrite the European security order with the US, Xi is focused on the economic means to alter the US ties.
  • Xi is making a big play for the Wall Street bankers who see merits in engagement with Beijing and lobby Washington to scale down the confrontation with China.

The US resilience

  •  The chaos of American domestic politics and the continuing arguments between the US and its European partners tend to amplify the disagreements within the West.
  •  It would be a mistake for Putin and Xi to mistake Western disagreements for strategic divergence.
  • Consensus on challenging China: The last few years have seen the quick emergence of a new US consensus on challenging China despite the polarisation of the American political class.
  • The idea that the US can’t risk a two-front challenge with Russia and China is popular but mistaken.
  • Power of the US and its allies: Despite the dramatic rise of China and its new partnership with Russia, the united front can’t really match the comprehensive national power of the US and its allies.
  • India is now a strategic partner of the US and faces growing challenges from China.
  • In Asia, Biden has revived the Anglosphere (the AUKUS alliance with the UK and Australia), elevated the Quad to the summit level, and reached out to the ASEAN.
  • In Europe, the US is getting NATO in order.
  • Britain has taken the lead in the diplomatic confrontation with Russia.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron is coordinating with the US in dealing with the Ukraine crisis.
  • Beyond the rebuilding of US alliances, Washington has an important lever which is the exploitation of the domestic political vulnerabilities of “Czar Putin” and “Emperor Xi”.

Challenge for India

  • New dynamics between two coalitions: India’s approach will depend upon the new dynamic between the two coalitions as well as its own relations with China, Russia, and the US.
  • As both sides consolidate their global coalitions, it will get harder to be in the middle.
  • India would like to see Russia find accommodation with the West in Europe; but if Russia’s relations with the West deteriorate further in Europe, Delhi is unlikely to let Moscow undermine its growing partnership with the US and its allies.

Conclusion

With the return of great power rivalry coinciding with India’s deteriorating ties with China, Delhi now stands closer than ever before to the West.

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