Europe is looming larger than ever in India’s strategic calculus 

News: Recently, the president of the European Commission visited India. Further, the Prime Minister of India is scheduled to visit Berlin, Copenhagen, and Paris in Europe. He will attend the 2nd India-Nordic summit. These visits signal a glimpse of India’s post-Russian strategic future in Europe.  

What are the driving forces? 

The Western sanctions have been imposed on Russia. Therefore, Russia is deepening its alliance with China. 

India is also working to boost up its bilateral partnerships with key European countries— Germany and France.  

India-Germany Relations 

Both countries have been facing various challenges coming from the Chinese muscular foreign policy and assertion. 

Germany is striving to reduce its exposure to Russian and Chinese markets. Therefore, India is an attractive new destination for German capital. The full potential of the commercial relationship is still to be realised.  

In fact, Germany is tied far more deeply to Russia than India. Germany’s annual trade with Russia is about $60 billion while India’s is at $10 bn. Further, Germany relies heavily on Russian natural gas. Therefore, Both India and Germany have been under pressure to disentangle from their Russian connection. In fact, both don’t like the Western pressures to reduce ties with Russia. 

India-Nordic Countries Relations 

In the last few years, Delhi has learnt that the Nordic Five — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden can contribute significantly to India’s development. They have a combined GDP greater than that of Russia.  

The First India-Nordic Summit 2017 produced a framework for an ambitious bilateral agenda on technological innovation and sustainable development. It implies that India has acknowledged the Nordic region as one of the various sub-regions of Europe which is important for Indians.   

India-France Relationship 

Both countries laid the foundation for a strong strategic partnership in 2018. Both are concerned about the implications of the war in the Indo-Pacific. There is going to be the next phase in the strategic partnership between both the countries.  

France is said to be India’s “new Russia” i.e., India’s most important strategic partner in the coming period. For example: (1) France defended India’s interests in the UNSC, (2) Both are partnering in the Indo-Pacific theatre, and (3) France is a major supplier of advanced arms to India. 

What are the challenges for India? 

India’s stand on the war in Ukraine and India’s strategic ties to Moscow can cast shadow on India’s relationship with all the European countries. 

The Nordic world shares frontiers with Russia over land as well as in the waters of the Arctic. Therefore, apart from Denmark, Iceland, and Norway which are founding members of NATO, the other two members of the Nordic five Sweden and Finland are now rushing to end their long-standing neutral status and join NATO. 

Way Forward 

India-Europe 

Indian PM’s tour to Europe can give India a better appreciation of the new mood in Europe developed due to Russian aggression.  

The India-Europe Trade and Technology Council was launched by the European Union. This is the EU’s second such council after the US. It marks the new contours of the EU’s strategic partnership with India  

The PM can explore the emerging possibilities for stronger cooperation with key European countries. 

The Western Europe has become an important element in India’s foreign and security policies. The crisis in Ukraine has intensified the imperatives for deeper strategic cooperation between India and its European partners. This is because the crisis has shattered the regional order in Europe that emerged in 1991. 

India-France 

France has developed a political framework for the peaceful integration of Russia into the European order. Both India and France can expand the defence partnership. France is critical in expanding domestic production of weapons in India. It can promote greater participation of private and foreign capital.  

India-Nordic 

Indian PM interactions with the Nordic leaders might help Delhi appreciate the deeply-held fears about Russia among Moscow’s smaller neighbours. India wants to build on the unique bilateral green strategic partnership with Denmark.  

Source: The post is based on an article “Europe is looming larger than ever in India’s strategic calculus” published in the Indian Express on 3rd May 2022. 

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