Modi visits Putin: What is India looking for in Russia and in whose interest?

The visit of Indian leader Narendra Modi to Moscow was perceived as a betrayal of Ukrainian interests. Analyst Yuri Bogdanov calls for avoiding categorical assessments and explains here why everything is not so simple.

Modi’s visit to Russia, China’s influence and the benefits of Western sanctions.

After the brutal Russian attack on Kiev, the Ukrainians logically showered a lot of lashing out at their Western partners for not doing enough to “put the beast to sleep.” They demand more from their partners, and they are often right. Of course, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who flew to Russia yesterday and had a pleasant chat with Putin, was no less hurt — because how could he be when the Russians are doing this?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the prime minister’s trip a “crushing blow to peacekeeping efforts” and described the visit as a “big disappointment.” There is much truth in this assessment. But it is necessary to analyze the causes of some events and consider them in their entirety. This includes the behavior of the government of the world’s largest country. Because the world is complex.

For India and Modi personally, the scale of the challenge corresponds to the scale of the country:

  1. The republic is surrounded by enemies – China is building a network of bases around India and pressing into the Himalayas, Pakistan still hopes to seize control of Kashmir. And they are working together.
  2. India’s growth is still very fragile. Economic development and poverty reduction require continued investment in the economy (mostly Western, Japanese and Korean) and the provision of (cheap) energy resources, as well as access to markets.
  3. Modi’s path creates many problems. Modi is a representative of religious nationalism. He wants to solidify the country on the basis of Indo-Aryan identity. For a country with 21 official languages, a quarter of the population is Dravidian and 15% Muslim, which seems like a dubious plan. And he already added votes to separatists – Sikhs and Tamils ​​- in the last elections.

With the outbreak of a full-scale war, the Modi government faces a new and major challenge: Russia’s drift towards China. Because Western sanctions have forced Russia to look for critical goods and critical sales markets in China. A very close partnership between Russia and China creates additional threats for India because it can strengthen its rival’s military and economic capabilities. For example, this includes reducing China’s dependence on the Indian Ocean trade route, which India controls. Therefore, the Indian leadership wants to leave room for Russia to maneuver in order to retain the influence that can push Russia away from China.

It is vital for India that Russia remain neutral in the India-China conflict. But it is also important for India to maintain good relations with the US, Australia and Japan, which are both sources of investment and partners in military-political alliances with China. Putin, of course, also wants to avoid being dependent on China alone.

Accordingly, India’s neutrality in our war is quite natural. And purchases of Russian oil, especially if there are discounts. India will be its second largest buyer after 2022.

But Russia cannot reap all the benefits of such a policy by India. Sanctions have forced banks to sharply reduce their transactions with Russia, Russia sells oil for rupees, and rupees are difficult to convert into dollars, euros, and even yuan. In fact, Russian companies can only spend a significant part of their money on investments in India or on government bonds.

If the West really wants to restrict this trade even further, the real blow will fall on the fleet carrying Russian oil. But here we come back to Biden’s dilemma: strong sanctions or cheap gas? Biden currently prefers cheap gas ahead of the election.

And one more important point. Modi’s visit should not overshadow important trends: cooperation between India and the Russian Federation in many areas (especially in technology) is being curtailed. Over the past five years, the Russian Federation’s share in arms imports has reached its lowest level in the last 60 years; India is increasingly buying weapons from the US, Israel and France. Because Russia’s dependence on Chinese components poses a direct threat; if something happens, these weapons will become impossible to maintain. In addition, India has finally localized production of the BRAMOS missile family, developed jointly with the Russian Federation.

In short, I say it once again: The world is very complicated. You have to learn to live with it.

The author expresses his personal opinion, which may not coincide with the editors’ position. The author is responsible for the data published in the “Opinions” section.

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Source: Focus

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