Explained: Why Prolonged Ukraine War Will Be Litmus Test of Indo-Russian Friendship?

Total Views : 6,741
Zoom In Zoom Out Read Later Print

Russia has benefited from its ties with both China and India. Yet the longer the Russian-Ukraine War (and the accompanying Western economic sanctions) lasts, the more Russia will become dependent on them. Surely, Russia would rather not forego either one. In fact, Moscow would like Beijing and New Delhi to become friends. But the deep mistrust that divides China and India makes that unlikely. And, if an open conflict was to break out between the two countries, both sides would likely appeal to Russia for support. Hence, both would be wise to consider what Russia might do in that situation.

Chandigarh (ABC Live): The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has altered Europe's geopolitics as well as the dynamics of Asia.

Russia is increasingly reliant on China and India to not only purchase its exports but also to bolster its finances as a result of Moscow's failure to quickly achieve a military victory over Ukraine.

China's dual-use technologies are also needed by Russia to support its defense industry.

How China and India develop their bilateral ties with Russia over the course of the war is crucial not only for Moscow's war effort but also for China-India relations in Asia.

China and India have contributed to lessening the impact of Western economic sanctions against Russia by refraining from criticizing Russia's invasion. However, if Moscow were forced to choose between the two countries, it might ultimately be influenced by the divergent perspectives on what it stands to gain from them.

Given the tensions that exist between China and India, being placed in that position is not a theoretical idea either. Relations between China and India have become increasingly hostile and deadly over the past few years. Pressures could disintegrate further over their boundary debates. Should Russia favour one over the other, either explicitly or implicitly, this could alter the power balance between Asia's two continental giants and increase tensions in the region.

The ABC Research Team working on India-China relations refers an article authored by Felix K. Chang published by Philadelphia based Foreign Policy Research Institute for our readers enabling them to understand how India’s geopolitical interest is directly involves:

The article says as under:

Cold War Thinking (Continued)

Such thinking still goes into Chinese and Indian strategic calculations, but within a new context. China’s economic growth and Belt and Road Initiative have given it new political clout in South Asia. And, after three decades of ever-higher defense expenditures, China can now boast a world-class military with three aircraft carriers, several nuclear-powered attack submarines, scores of fifth-generation combat aircraft, and hundreds of advanced ballistic missiles. Plus, China has built an extensive network of highways, railways, and airports to allow it to rapidly deploy its forces to its Himalayan border. At the same time, China has grown increasingly suspicious of India’s budding relations with the United States, especially after the 2008 US-India civil-nuclear deal, and India’s link with the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader.

On the other side of the Himalayan Mountains, India has been all too aware of China’s strategic advances. As early as 2010, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned that “China would like to have a foothold in South Asia.” Such concerns grew more acute with time. By 2023, the Indian army’s chief of staff would openly observe that “China is increasingly displaying the willingness to project its military power … in our immediate neighborhood.” Unfortunately for India, it has struggled to keep pace with its northern neighbor. India’s economic growth has been less consistent than China’s. And, partly as a result, New Delhi has been slower to modernize its military. India has also taken far longer to build the logistics infrastructure that would enable it to rapidly move its forces to its border with China. Indeed, compensating for that shortcoming was one reason for the Indian army’s decision to raise and base the new 17 Mountain Strike Corps in nearby West Bengal.

The strategic calculations of both sides are not academic exercises. Border skirmishes between China and India have risen in number and intensity over the last two decades, including a 2020 clash that resulted in hundreds of casualties and another incident in 2022. While neither side may be seeking an open conflict, the possibility of one is real. Chinese leaders, who have long regarded India with some disdain, have intimated punitive action against it if it did not “correct [what China sees as] its mistakes.” Meanwhile, Indian leaders (not to mention the Indian people) are loathe to again endure the sort of humiliation their country suffered during the Sino-Indian War of 1962.

Rival Relations with Russia

It is against that backdrop that China and India have navigated their relations with Russia after its 2022 invasion of Ukraine. On the surface, China and India seemed to have pursued similar policies towards Russia and the West. Both have refrained from condemning Russia, continued to trade with it, and distanced themselves from the West’s robust response. But China went a step further. It allowed its state-owned companies to sell Russia dual-use technology, including semiconductors that could be used in military hardware. Indeed, China doubled its exports of semiconductors to Russia during 2022. That no doubt was appreciated in Moscow.

India has taken a somewhat different tack toward Russia. It sharply boosted its purchases of Russian commodities, from fertilizer to steel. Most notably, India went from being a negligible importer of Russian oil in 2021 to being the biggest in 2022. India’s buying spree did not go unnoticed in Moscow (or the West). In fact, Indian leaders bristled at Western criticism of it. As India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated: “I would put my country’s national interests first and I would put my energy security first … Why should I not buy [Russian oil]?” While doing so irked the United States, Indian leaders probably judged that Washington would look past India’s imports, considering America’s need for Indian participation in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.

Both China and India have pursued their relations with Russia in ways that serve their broader national interests. Ultimately, China wants to prevent Ukraine (and by extension the West) from decisively defeating Russia, in large part because Beijing would like an ally that is sufficiently strong to be helpful in its own competition against the United States. Meanwhile, India would like a Russia that is strong enough to act independently of China and can help prevent it from becoming Asia’s dominant power.

Through a Glass Darkly

Russia has benefited from its ties with both China and India. Yet the longer the Russian-Ukraine War (and the accompanying Western economic sanctions) lasts, the more Russia will become dependent on them. Surely, Russia would rather not forego either one. In fact, Moscow would like Beijing and New Delhi to become friends. But the deep mistrust that divides China and India makes that unlikely. And, if an open conflict was to break out between the two countries, both sides would likely appeal to Russia for support. Hence, both would be wise to consider what Russia might do in that situation.

At this writing, it seems like a reasonable bet that Russia would tilt towards China, unless New Delhi can top the benefits that Beijing brings to the table with Moscow. China not only is more tightly connected to Russia, literally by pipelines and railways, but also possesses economic and technological strengths that India lacks. Plus, there is little doubt that China and Russia share a common adversary, the United States, making Beijing a more reliable partner.

Such a Russian tilt would clearly be bad for India, were it to get into a war with China. Beijing would likely prevail on Moscow to limit its engagement with New Delhi. At a minimum, India would be unable to count on Russia to pin down large numbers of Chinese divisions, and would probably find itself facing the full force of China’s military. Even a nominally neutral Russia would be detrimental to India. For example, were Russia to embargo arms and spare parts to both sides, such an action would penalize India far more than it would China.

Moreover, even without a war, China’s closer bilateral relations with Russia could encourage Beijing to pursue its interests more forcefully in South Asia, whether on its disputed Himalayan border or with India’s surrounding neighbors. That too could shift the power balance between China and India and lead to greater regional tensions. While India has sought to deal with such a possibility through warmer relations with AustraliaJapan, and the United States, among others, New Delhi’s embrace of the West has been very slow, likely the product of India’s traditional mistrust of it. But given how close the Russian-Ukrainian War has brought China and Russia, New Delhi might want to pick up the pace.

To Read complete article published by Foreign Policy Research Institute click here

See More

Latest Photos