Russia's Displeasure with India: The Manifestations
The Former Soviet Union and its successor state today that is Russia has been India's sheet anchor strategically in the global power games so far. The Russia-India Strategic Partnership has been the only time-tested and enduring strategic partnership in India's diplomatic history except for an aberration of the Yeltsin presidency when under US pressure he diluted the India relationship.
During the Cold War years when India was subjected to coercive pressures from the United States because of its displeasure with India's non-alignment policies it was Russia which provided India with countervailing power and provided it with foreign policy options. Russia's veto power saved India's stands on Kashmir in the United Nations many times over.
When the United States was militarily building Pakistan into a regional spoiler state to tie down India strategically within South Asian confines, India turned to Russia for her military build-up. Russia was generous in supplying India with her advanced military needs which ultimately provided India with the military superiority to win the wars with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971. Even on date India's military inventories of all the three Services in terms of military hardware dependency amounts to 70%to 80%.
The Russia- India Strategic Partnership therefore has been a significant one with time tested credentials as opposed to the US-India Strategic Partnership which is still in the evolution stage and whose credentials have yet to be tested by time.
Russia under President Putin has made a dramatic surge to regain its bipolar supremacy in global affairs and to be reckoned forcefully in the global strategic calculus. It is no longer content to let things strategic bypass it without responses and especially when it comes to India in which case President Putin put in great effort to rekindle the Russia-India Strategic Partnership in the last few years.
Russia did not react adversely to the emerging US-India Strategic Partnership as it presumably took in its stride as an enlargement of India's quest for strategic partnerships. Russia also adopted a pragmatic approach to the Indo-US Nuclear Deal.
Lately, Russia's displeasure with India has started manifesting itself in a number of ways and which must be read in the overall context of the present Congress Government going in for a strategic tilt towards the United States.
India's strategic involvement in the strategic geometries of US- sponsored ' US-Japan-India Trilateral' and the 'US-Japan-Australia-India Quadrilateral' in East Asia. East Asia is a vitally important strategic region for Russia in its global rivalries with USA and India getting strategically involved in this region with USA and its allies can be perceived by Russia as a strategic tilt from its established stances.
Russia started manifesting its displeasure with India lately by demanding escalation in prices on outstanding military orders from India and going slow on the aircraft carrier project. More dramatically, during the recent visits of the Indian External Affairs Minister and the Indian Defence Minister to Moscow the traditional calls on the Russian President were dispensed with by the Russian Government.
The Indian Prime Minister's visit to Moscow next week was also an occasion to indicate Russian displeasure. While fixing the program schedule for the first time it was insisted that for the visit to be treated as an official one with all the connected protocol a meeting with the Russian Prime Minister was a pre-condition. Protocol wise the Indian Prime Minister is at par with the Russian President in terms of being heads of the executive.
Obviously things have gone amiss in Russia-India strategic relationship. In the assessment of this Columnist the latest provocation may have come from source reports in India to Moscow that India was planning to award the $10 billion contract for 136 combat planes for the India Air Force to the United States as a single vendor. Maybe this could have been one of the unwritten assurances by the present Indian Government to the United States to get the Nuclear Deal through.
Ironically, it was Congress Governments under the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty which built-up the Russia 'India Strategic Partnership which has endured so long and now it seems it is a Congress Government under the Nehru-Gandhi dynastic control which may unravel it.
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Dr. Subhash Kapila
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