Two Top Russian Diplomats Issued A Timely Reminder That India Resists US Pressure

It’s significant that two top Russian diplomats not only reminded the world that India resists US pressure, but also seemingly timed their arguably coordinated statements to coincide with the Quad’s fourth Foreign Ministers’ meeting. This signals to the world that Russia has full trust in India’s sovereign right to calibrate its multi-alignment policy in whatever manner its leadership believes is in their grand strategic interests. It’s expected that China might express some concern about Friday’s meeting, whether directly or indirectly, in which case its stance towards this would be different from Russia’s.

Two Russian diplomats released similar statements on the same day reaffirming their country’s official position that India does indeed resist American pressure. New Russian Ambassador to India Denis Alipov confirmed on Thursday that the US’ “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) sanctions threats for India’s purchase of his country’s S-400 air defense systems “have not had any effect.” This coincided with Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya confirmed that “Russia, China and India” are countries that it’s impossible for the US to put pressure on.

These statements came a day before the Quad’s fourth Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Australia on Friday. This suggests that Russia no longer has any concerns about India’s membership in this de facto US-led bloc that many observers largely consider to be premised on their shared desire to “contain” China. New Delhi’s participation in that format had earlier elicited some gentle criticism from Moscow yet these special and privileged strategic partners seem to have finally resolved their differences of vision over that issue.

Modi with Biden
President Joe Biden meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Oval Office of the White House, September 24, 2021, in Washington

That outcome was approximately a year in the making and began to be noticeable following Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s trip to India last spring. President Putin’s visit in early December and the signing of a whopping 99-paragraph reaffirmed strategic partnership pact put to rest any speculation that Russia still had concerns about India’s membership in the Quad. In the preceding months, that country’s ties with the US became a lot more complicated, especially after America’s secret creation of AUKUS essentially led to that alliance assuming the Quad’s speculative anti-Chinese military purposes.

Observers should also keep in mind that the qualitatively new nature of the Russian-Indian Strategic Partnership is such that both sides respect the other’s sovereign decision to comprehensively cultivate ties with countries that their counterpart might not have the best relations with so long as they aren’t aimed against their partner or any third party. This explains why Russia nowadays accepts India’s close military-strategic relations with the US the same as India accepts Russia’s rapidly developing ones with Pakistan. That observation confirms how mature their historic partnership has become.

It’s significant that two top Russian diplomats not only reminded the world that India resists US pressure, but also seemingly timed their arguably coordinated statements to coincide with the Quad’s fourth Foreign Ministers’ meeting. This signals to the world that Russia has full trust in India’s sovereign right to calibrate its multi-alignment policy in whatever manner its leadership believes is in their grand strategic interests. It’s expected that China might express some concern about Friday’s meeting, whether directly or indirectly, in which case its stance towards this would be different from Russia’s.

Should that be the case and Moscow’s position remains the same as it was the day prior (considering the unlikelihood of it changing), then this would represent yet another instance of those two strategic partners having opposite views on issues of major significance. Nevertheless, no one should interpret that potential development as signifying that there’s a so-called “emerging rift” between them since their joint statement from earlier this month confirms that they share the exact same outlook when it comes to jointly accelerating the emerging Multipolar World Order.

That said, no pair of countries will ever perfectly see eye-to-eye with one another, and Russia and China aren’t any exception. They noticeably disagree on Kashmir and the South China Sea, with Moscow proudly declaring its full support for New Delhi’s abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019 and just last December referencing the international legal supremacy of UNCLOS three times in its reaffirmed strategic partnership pact with Vietnam, while Beijing fiercely opposed India’s decision at the time and doesn’t recognize UNCLOS’ prior ruling on China’s territorial dispute with the Philippines.

Be that as it is, the latest Russian-Chinese joint statement confirmed that both Great Powers are opposed to AUKUS and NATO, which suggests that any potential divergence of the Quad’s role in the Asia-Pacific and particularly India’s participation within it definitely won’t have any adverse impact on their strategic partnership just like their differences over Kashmir and the South China Sea haven’t either. Nevertheless, Russia’s seemingly coordinated top-level diplomatic support of India’s sovereign strategic decisions (presumably vis-à-vis the Quad due to timing) will likely attract China’s attention.

Source: One World

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