The joint Russian-Indian “Indra 2018” military drills are taking place in South Asia.
These two decades-long partners are experiencing a renaissance in their relations after President Putin’s landmark visit to the subcontinent early last month thawed the chill that had set over their affairs following India’s unprecedented military-strategic outreaches to the US in recent years. New Delhi has always maintained that it’s pursuing a policy of so-called “multi-alignment” in “balancing” between the world’s Great Powers, and while some of its moves can be described as “clumsy” and therefore prompting a few observers to question its overall intentions, India nevertheless proved that it’s interested in maintaining its strategic relations with Russia after committing to purchase the S-400 anti-air defense systems despite the US’ CAATSA sanctions threats.
As for Russia, it’s also practicing “multi-alignment” through what can be described as its “military diplomacy” via arms exports and joint drills. Not only is Moscow cooperating with New Delhi in these dimensions, but it’s also doing the same with its rivals in Beijing and even Islamabad, albeit to different extents in each. Similarly to how India’s military-strategic relations with the US aren’t aimed against Russia, neither are Russia’s ones with China and Pakistan aimed against India. Rather, it can be argued that Moscow’s version of “multi-alignment” is even more regionally stabilizing than New Delhi’s because Russia endeavors to retain the “balance of power” between all of its partners while the US strives to upset it in favor of its new Indian ally to China and Pakistan’s mutual detriment.
That said, Russian-Indian military ties take on an even more important role than ever before because Moscow is now the only Great Power that has any chance whatsoever of exercising “moderating influence” on New Delhi to counteract Washington’s growing sway. To India’s credit, its leadership understands the need to remain close to Russia, even if it’s “progressively diversifying” its erstwhile dependency on Moscow’s military-industrial complex in favor of its new partners in the US, Israel, and France. This aforementioned trend is one of the reasons why the US declined to sanction India for its S-400 deal with Russia, but it’ll still take a few decades for it to develop to the point where it seriously threatens Indian-Russian relations.
By that point, ties between the two might have also diversified, though away from their military and nuclear energy bases and towards more comprehensive commercial and infrastructure cooperation.
The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Nov 23, 2018:
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