Why the Russia-West equation matters to India

News: Russia’s geopolitics have always impacted India’s international relations. Its present tussle with the west and US on Ukraine will also have great consequences for India.

India-Russia’s historic connection and its present status

The Great Game of the 19th century between the British Raj and imperial Russia, the Soviet support for revolutionary movements in Asia, the Russian role in World War II, Moscow’s extended Cold War with the West, and post-Soviet Russia’s turbulent ties with the US and Europe have all deeply influenced India’s national choices.

The 1917 Revolution, the Soviet model of economic development, and Russian geopolitics had a profound impact on 20th century India’s worldview.

Why Russia-West relations matter to India?

The Soviet Union has collapsed thirty years ago in December 1991. The breakup of the Soviet Union put an end to the global power structure that emerged after the Second World War.

After 1991, along with India, Russia also roped in China to build a new coalition (RIC). The coalition aims to promote a multipolar world that would limit the dangers of American hyperpower.

The upswing in India’s ties with America(since 2000), has coincided with a steady downturn in the relations between Russia and the US. This began to complicate India’s great power politics.

For instance, India’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile and the threat of US’s Sanctions is a classic example.

Read more: Recent developments in India-Russia Relations – Explained, pointwise
What is the present status of Russia-West relations?

The continuous escalation of tensions between Russia and the West culminated in the last few weeks in Ukraine-at the heart of Europe. The US and Russian presidents have been in touch to defuse the crisis.

Last week, Russia presented several proposals for a new European security architecture. The proposals demand to annul its promise to make Ukraine and Georgia — two former Soviet Republics — members of the military alliance. Russia is also proposing an agreement on reducing provocative military activity on its borders.

The US with its extraordinary military resources can’t afford to fight in both Asia (with China) and Europe (with Russia). But the US, Belgium and other border countries of Russia see the Russian framework as a gambit of tough negotiations on European security. On the other hand, France and Germany support a reset in relations with Russia.

Read more: For an honest broker: On Russia and India-China ties
How India should take part in Russia-West relations?

India knew that Russia’s international policies have been driven more by national interest and geopolitics, not by their past ideologies. India also knew that stabilising the Asian balance of power will be difficult without a measure of US-Russian cooperation in Europe.

Further, reconciliation of Russia-West relations will make it a lot easier for India to manage its own security challenges. So, India should welcome and support any mutually acceptable security order in Europe.

Source: This post is based on the article ”Why the Russia-West equation matters to India” published in Indian Express on 21st December 2021.

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