Why India-Russia Relations Demands Reconsideration?

SynopsisThe recent visit of Russia’s Foreign Minister to India has once again highlighted the issues in India-Russia bilateral relations. As Russia has been a good friend to India, it demands a reconsideration.

Background:
  • The year 2020 witnessed a break in the annual India-Russia bilateral summit. Before this, the leaders of two countries met every year for the last 2 decades.
  • Russia’s Foreign Minister visit aimed at preparing the ground for the next India-Russia bilateral summit.  
Outcome of the visit:
  • A joint statement was released on areas of cooperation and collaboration.
  • The diverging issues were less focused like views over Afghanistan.
  • The Russian foreign minister was not able to meet the Indian PM. This was an unprecedented event and shows the existence of numerous concerning issues between the countries.
Concerning Issues in India-Russia relations:
  • Indo-Pacific region: Russia doesn’t welcome the use of the term Indo-Pacific. Because it symbolizes US leadership, thus it prefers to use the term ‘Asia Pacific’.
  • QUAD Group: Russia views the grouping as a political-military alliance against the Russia-China grouping. Furthermore, the US wants to use the grouping as a tool to counter China’s rise as a superpower.
  • Declining India-China relations: The recent border clashes in Galwan region have marked a new low in relations. On the other side, there has been an enhanced collaboration between Russia and China. For instance, Russia accounted for 77% of China’s arms imports in 2016-20.
  • Russian closeness with Pakistan: Russia is increasing its proximity with Pakistan as seen especially in the defense sector. Consequently, it is now Pakistan’s second-largest defense supplier, accounting for 6.6% of its arms imports in 2016-20.
  • CAATSA: Many Russian companies are listed as adversaries under the CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act). This may impair future Russia-India interaction.
Importance of Russia:
  • All-weather Friend: The bilateral relations between the countries had stood the test of time. Russia provided constant support to India since its independence.
  • Defence Cooperation: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) records that Russia supplied 49% of India’s arms imports in 2016-20.
  • India’s Strategic Interest: The geographical location of Russia and India automatically demands cordial relations amongst them. Because this would fulfill India’s strategic interest in Central Asia and West Asia. Further, it will help in materializing projects like the International North-South Transport Corridor.
Way Forward:
  • India needs to carefully glide through the new alliances in the world order. The gliding must enable the country to maximize its global influence.
  • Further, the country should leverage Russian potential in its future endeavors like India’s manned space program.
  • Both the countries should cooperate on current commitments like a $1 billion Indian line of credit for projects in the Russian Far East and activation of a Chennai-Vladivostok maritime corridor.

Source: The Hindu 

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