Beijing announced that it firmly opposes Indian vice president’s visit to a disputed area on the China-India border, the so-called “Arunachal Pradesh”, urging New Delhi to refrain from moves that complicate boundary issues and bring China-India relations back on the right track and steady development. The so-called “Arunachal Pradesh” was established largely on three areas of China’s Tibet – Monyul, Loyul and Lower Tsayul – which are currently under India’s illegal occupation.
China has put in place new modular container-based accommodations for its troops in several high-altitude forward areas on its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. Some sources said India is also ramping up construction of tunnels, bridges roads and other critical infrastructure in eastern Ladakh and other areas along the nearly 3,500-km LAC.
Moscow Sent A Strong Signal To India By Condemning The Quad As Anti-Russian
22 SEPTEMBER 2021
India doesn’t have any anti-Russian intentions and is even remaining loyal to its S-400 air defense deal with Moscow despite Washington’s sanctions threats. Nevertheless, Patrushev considers the bloc that it’s part of to be a regionally destabilizing force whose overall impact negatively affects Russian interests.
Russian Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev condemned the Quad as anti-Russian in a recent interview. He also described it as “an Asian NATO prototype” that pursues anti-Chinese policies too. This was a strong signal to India, which joined that emerging US-led military alliance due to its members’ shared intent to contain China. India doesn’t have any anti-Russian intentions though and is even remaining loyal to its S-400 air defense deal with Moscow despite Washington’s sanctions threats. Nevertheless, Patrushev considers the bloc that it’s part of to be a regionally destabilizing force whose overall impact negatively affects Russian interests.
The timing of his remarks is also significant since it comes ahead of the Quad’s first-ever in-person summit on 24 September. Patrushev is also probably aware of how uncomfortable India has become after being left out of the new Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) trilateral military alliance. New Delhi shares those countries desire to contain China and thought that it could play a leading role in this respect only to be kept in the dark during this bloc’s secret negotiation process. With this in mind, Patrushev is hoping to encourage his country’s special and privileged strategic partner to reconsider its participation in such US-led attempts.
The ideal scenario would be for Moscow to mediate a rapprochement between New Delhi and Beijing, though that might not happen due to their deep differences over sensitive issues. These include their disputed frontier, India’s controversial revocation of Article 370 in August 2019, its subsequent publication of a map laying claim to Chinese-administered Aksai Chin, warmongering comments from its officials, and New Delhi’s last-minute decision to remain outside of last year’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), among many others. Even Russia’s world-class diplomats can’t realistically bridge all of these very serious differences.
Rather, the most practical outcome that Russia likely hopes for is that India will reach an unofficial “non-aggression pact” with China for responsibly managing these disputes across an extended period of time. During the interim, they can seek to “normalize” their relations as much as they can considering these unresolved issues. The path to this scenario is only possible if India no longer attempts to militarily contain China in the aggressive way that it’s thus far done through the US-led Quad. By continuing to do so, it risks destabilizing Eurasia and therefore worsening the overall strategic situation for Russia.
Patrushev doesn’t expect the Chinese-Indian rivalry to disappear overnight, which is why Russia aspires to remain the South Asian state’s top military partner in order to help it balance the People’s Republic. In practice, this takes the form of their trusted military cooperation on sensitive technologies such as the S-400 deal and their joint collaboration on the Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles which they plan to export to the Philippines and potentially other regional countries that are in fierce territorial disputes with China. If countries like India are going to keep balancing China, then Russia prefers for them to receive relevant wares from it, not the US.
The reason for this is that Russia’s “military diplomacy” seeks to maintain the balance of power between its various partners, quite a few of whom are rivals of one another such as Armenia & Azerbaijan, China & India, China & Vietnam, and Iran & Saudi Arabia. By contrast, the US seeks to tip the balance of power in favor of its preferred partner with the expectation that this will encourage them to behave aggressively against their rival. The American method of “military diplomacy” is therefore aggressively intentioned and aims to dangerously disrupt regional balances whereas the Russian method is predicated on defense and retaining such balances.
India can therefore responsibly manage its rivalry with China by relying more on Russia than on the West. Continuing to participate in the Quad will only worsen Eurasia’s US-provoked security crisis and could potentially lead to unpredictable consequences up to and including another border war with China. India’s relevant needs can therefore be met by Russia, which will help it balance China without any serious risks to regional stability. The South Asian state should therefore take Patrushev’s condemnation of the Quad as anti-Russian very seriously and thus reconsider the wisdom of remaining within this US-led military alliance.
AUKUS Inadvertently Opens Diplomatic Opportunities For Russia With France & India
19 SEPTEMBER 2021
Ideally, Russia would like to regulate its growing competition with France in Africa (especially in the vast region of ‘Françafrique’ that Paris considers to be its exclusive ‘sphere of influence’) while encouraging India to enter into a meaningful rapprochement with China.
The Ruckus Over AUKUS
Last week’s announcement of the new trilateral Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) anti-Chinese military alliance is already backfiring on America after it unprecedentedly offended its oldest French ally and also resulted in uncomfortable racial optics of Anglo-American superiority within the Quad that strongly implied India’s “junior partner” status within that structure. These consequences are still manageable though since France won’t leave NATO in protest like some have speculated nor will India abandon the Quad.
The Diplomatic-Strategic Backdrop
Those two countries’ leaderships still believe that their national interests are advanced by continuing to participate in efforts to “contain” China, though there’s discernibly a major trust deficit between their governments and America’s after what just happened. This might reduce the overall effectiveness of their joint measures to “contain” China. It’s this observation that inadvertently opens up diplomatic opportunities for Russia with both of them, which could bolster Moscow’s balancing act if it successfully capitalizes on this.
France and India regard America as more unreliable than ever before, and this perception likely won’t dissipate no matter how much time passes. Paris naively fell for Biden’s ploy whereby the newly elected Democrat leader promised that “America is back” and that he’d thus respect Washington’s allies unlike his predecessor. New Delhi, meanwhile, was already concerned that Trump’s successor would compromise on its interests since his team seemed not to appreciate their country’s anti-Chinese “containment” role as much as the Republican did.
France just found out the hard way that the US is untrustworthy regardless of whichever part of the duopoly is officially running its affairs after Washington poached a AUS$90 billion nuclear-powered submarine deal from Paris with Canberra upon clinching this major military alliance behind its back. As for India, its leadership is more self-conscious than ever before that the US doesn’t consider it to be an equal and is thus very worried that this risks dooming the South Asian state to a fate of perpetual second-class status vis-a-vis America.
Russia can take advantage of these concerns as its diplomatic angle of approach for engaging them in order to explore two very exciting diplomatic opportunities. Ideally, Russia would like to regulate its growingcompetition with France in Africa (especially in the vast region of “Françafrique” that Paris considers to be its exclusive “sphere of influence”) while encouraging India to enter into a meaningful rapprochement with China. These two geostrategic tasks are among the most important ones for contemporary Russian foreign policy.
The Path To Mutually Beneficial Outcomes
They aren’t unrealistic to achieve either in light of AUKUS. The French and Indian Foreign Ministers already released a joint statement pledging “to work on a joint program of concrete actions to defend a truly multilateral international order” in what can be interpreted as a signal to the US of their intense dissatisfaction with that alliance. Those two countries are clearly interested in “multi-aligning” with one another in order to create a more trustworthy axis of cooperation within the world’s growing anti-Chinese “containment” network.
This demonstrates several shared desires on both of their parts: increase strategic autonomy vis-a-vis the US; creatively multi-align in pursuit of this end; and potentially go as far as offending America in the process by keeping it out of the loop. None of these interests is contradictory to what Russia could attempt to explore with each of them. To the contrary, they’re complementary and strategically consistent. The outcomes that Moscow might advance would be mutually beneficial within this context.
To explain, France is increasingly being forced to accept that Russian influence in Françafrique must be reckoned with since it’s too powerful of a factor nowadays to ignore. Instead of remaining mired in a “hybrid” competition, both Great Powers would do better to discretely delineate their new “spheres of influence”, both geopolitically and also strategically within those African countries where they overlap. The US wants them to remain at each other’s throats there so that it can then swoop in to capitalize on the chaos.
The solution is to negotiate a so-called “non-aggression pact” there whereby France and Russia agree to “freeze” their competition for a certain period of time, cooperate on issues where their interests align like anti-terrorism and socio-economic development, and thus contribute to Africa’s stabilization. This would reduce the chances of the US exploiting these competitive dynamics in an attempt to sideline both of their interests as it seeks to advance its own. It would also show how truly independent French foreign policy is becoming.
When it comes to India, New Delhi can no longer completely rely on Washington’s support when it comes to “containing” China. There’s only so far that the South Asian state can go towards this end without suffering unacceptable costs that it now knows that its new ally won’t help it shoulder. This growing awareness will naturally compel India to seek some sort of accommodation with China similar to the one that was proposed above between France and Russia, which their shared partners in the Kremlin might help them broker.
Candidly speaking and with full respect to India, its leadership is extremely self-conscious of how their country is perceived and treated by the US, so much so that some observers can convincingly claim that they suffer from an inferiority complex. This isn’t being brought up as a criticism but to hint at an opportunity since that same complex could inspire them to behave more independently vis-a-vis the US after being condescendingly treated as its “junior partner” if Russia mediates an improvement of ties with China in response upon their request.
Shared Interests & Solutions
It’s more important than ever for France and India to increase their strategic autonomy relative to the US after both were so brazenly disrespected by it through AUKUS. They also have a pressing need to repair their soft power at home and abroad. Their people are upset at America trampling over them in such a humiliating way while the rest of the world is beginning to think that they’re just powerless puppets if they don’t do anything significant in response. Their geopolitical interests and prestige are therefore on the line.
Both sets of problems can be adequately resolved through the proposed solutions with Russia. France and India would bolster their strategic autonomy by regulating competition with Russia in Africa and with China in Asia, respectively, which would open up a new array of geopolitical opportunities for them that they didn’t have before. Their people would be pleased at how independently their leaders are conducting their foreign policy, especially in spite of America’s expected misgivings, while the world would be impressed with this as well.
Managing The French-Russian Arms Competition Over India
The only potential wrinkle in this scenario is the emerging French-Russian competition for India’s arms market. Paris has recently become one of New Delhi’s top partners, which makes its historical ones in Moscow very uncomfortable. Be that as it may, each Great Power could potentially fulfill different military needs for their shared partner. Russia has already carved out a vast “sphere of influence” in this strategic space while France could replace America’s present role there if the US sanctions India for its S-400 air defense purchase.
American-Indian military cooperation isn’t anywhere close in terms of value to the AUS$90 billion nuclear-powered submarine deal that the US poached from France with Australia, but Paris could still make up for some lost financial opportunities by attempting to poach Washington’s future deals with New Delhi. In fact, France and the US are more akin to competitors with one another in this space than they are competitors with Russia, whether separately or jointly. Their intensified competition there could advance Russian and Indian interests.
India is one of the world’s top arms purchasers and will continue to attempt to “contain” China even if it doesn’t do so to the radical extent that the US demands. Comparatively speaking, the expansion of French influence in India through “military diplomacy” via arms sales would be a more moderating force than its American counterpart. Russia would obviously prefer for neither of them to have this sort of influence over its special and privileged strategic partner, but if it’s inevitable to a degree, then it’s better for it to be French than American.
From the Indian perspective, it could play France and the US off against one another in order to get the best deals from both. In the event that the US goes through with its threats to sanction the country for purchasing Russia’s S-400 air defense systems, then India’s strategic autonomy wouldn’t be all that adversely affected since it could just multi-align away from America and towards France in order to meet its pertinent military needs that it feels more comfortable relying on Western countries to achieve than on Russia for whatever reason.
To recap the insight that was shared in this analysis, France and India aren’t likely to have any serious rupture in their relations with the US such as leaving NATO and the Quad respectively, but their ties with it won’t be the same again due to the enormous trust deficit caused by AUKUS. This presents exciting diplomatic opportunities for Russia to explore a “non-aggression” pact with France in Africa and the possibility of mediating an Indian-Chinese rapprochement, both of which would serve their interests while sending a strong signal to the US.
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and National Security Advisor for the Indian Prime Minister Ajit Doval have agreed to coordinate the two countries’ approaches to efforts related to Afghanistan. The parties considered ways to boost security cooperation with a focus on the fight against terrorism, illegal migration and drug trafficking, as well as cooperation between intelligence agencies and defense ministries.
Robust Russian-Indian Defense Ties Prove That New Delhi Still Values Moscow
3 SEPTEMBER 2021
Russia and India’s “military diplomacy” with one another and jointly with others has strengthened their strategic partnership.
The recalibration of Indian grand strategy over the past decade away from its prior model of non-alignment towards the de facto pro-Western pivot that it describes as multi-alignment raised concerns about the future of Russian-Indian relations. This trend was commenced in response to the Indian leadership beginning to view neighboring China’s rise as a threat. The US aims to contain the People’s Republic, which is why India found a commonality of grand strategic interest with it and decided to prioritize the comprehensive improvement of their relations. By contrast, Russian-Chinese ties have only strengthened during this time, which is why some Indians began to regard the Eurasian Great Power as unreliable when it comes to their anti-Chinese goals.
Russia will never do anything to harm its Chinese and Indian strategic partners’ interests, unlike the US which seeks to play India off against China in order to divide and rule Asia. Moscow’s military cooperation with both Great Powers is motivated by the desire to retain a balance of force between them whereas Washington wants to tilt the balance in New Delhi’s favor at Beijing’s expense. Even so, India realized that it cannot completely rely on the US to meet its military needs after being threatened with CAATSA sanctions for its planned purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense systems. That deal also importantly signified the start of India once again recalibrating its military relations between both Great Powers and moving closer to Russia as a result.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released a report in March 2021 comparing trends in international arms transfers between the periods 2011-15 and 2016-20. it found that there was a whopping 53% fall in relevant Russian exports to India during that time. Even so, Head of International Cooperation and Regional Policy of Rostec state corporation Victor N. Kladov told The Hindu during late August’s Army 2021 exhibition in his country that their defense trade was worth $15 billion over the past three years. The outlet reported that the bulk of this was attributable to some big ticket deals such as the S-400s, which Mr. Kladov praised India for remaining committed to despite US sanctions threats.
I concluded in January of this year that “The Future Of US-Indian Relations Depends On New Delhi’s S-400 Decision” since it’ll show whether the South Asian state truly defends its national interests like Mr. Kladov believes or if it’ll submit to American pressure into becoming its new ally’s junior partner against China. As it presently stands, India has no such intentions of playing second fiddle to anyone as proven by its commitment to the Russian air defense deal. Military-technical cooperation has always remained the mainstay of the special and privileged Russian-Indian strategic partnership, and despite the negative trend that SIPRI recently reported, India evidently doesn’t feel comfortable sacrificing this and instead relies on it to retain balance with the US.
Had India compromised on its national interests by pulling out of the deal under American pressure, then it would have inevitably led to the irreversible deterioration of relations with Russia that would have seriously reduced its defense capabilities since it’s unable to realistically diversify away from its historical supplier anytime soon. Remaining committed to that deal complicates its ties with the US, though, but India believes that this is an acceptable cost for retaining its strategic sovereignty and still hopes that America might eventually grant it a sanctions waiver. Even if it doesn’t, India wouldn’t have lost out on all that much since its military-technical industry still remains dependent on Russia, not the US.
In fact, India seems to have once again begun to appreciate the reliability of its Russian partner after clinching so many big ticket deals over the past three years. The two sides are also looking to expand their military cooperation as well. The latest reports indicate that they’re negotiating an upgrade to the T-90S Bishma MBTs and Russia’s potential modernization of the Talwar-class guided missile frigates. They also just inked a deal for 70,000 AK assault rifles. Furthermore, they plan to export their jointly produced BrahMos supersonic cruise missile to countries in Southeast and West Asia, including the Philippines and potentially also Vietnam, both of which are embroiled in tense territorial conflicts with China in the South China Sea.
This last-mentioned observation shows that Russia isn’t afraid to cooperate with India in order to retain third countries’ military balances with China despite Moscow’s close ties with Beijing. Once again, it must be pointed out that Russia doesn’t seek to give anyone an edge over the other – neither China nor its other arms partners in Southeast Asia such as Vietnam – but to help each match the other’s growing capabilities with the hope that this would reduce the likelihood of a military clash between them and therefore improve the odds of a political solution to their disputes. The US, by contrast, hopes to give the Philippines, Vietnam, India, and others an edge over China in order to encourage them to provoke the same clashes that Russia hopes to avoid.
Russia’s and India’s planned BrahMos exports to third countries, especially those in the South China Sea, serve to positively reshape Indian perceptions about Russian reliability by showing that Moscow isn’t under Beijing’s influence like some in New Delhi fear. The Eurasian Great Power, just like its South Asian counterpart, doesn’t want to play second fiddle to anyone and is thus confidently showing the world that it’ll help others militarily balance China with Indian support the same as it helps China balance others such as India. Russia will never go as far as the US does by infringing on China’s interests, whether directly in the South China Sea or indirectly through the types of military equipment that it exports to its partners, but it’s still highly appreciated by India.
The BrahMos missiles can therefore be said to have been a game-changer in Russian-Indian military cooperation. Not only are they impressive in and of themselves, but their planned export to third countries embroiled in territorial disputes with China showed India that some of its experts were wrong about Russian intentions. This reassurance helped them to realize that they don’t need to put all their eggs in the American military basket, especially at the potential loss of their strategic sovereignty with time, which convinced them to remain committed to the S-400 deal despite the US’ sanctions threats. The end result is that Russia and India’s “military diplomacy” with one another and jointly with others has strengthened their strategic partnership.
The coronavirus pandemic has confirmed that Russia and India have reliable cooperation, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. According to the Indian prime minister, “energy is another major pillar of our strategic partnership”.
Russia and India agreed to form a permanent bilateral channel for consultations on Afghanistan. New Delhi has been very cautious on issues relating to the Taliban – first stating that the group would have legitimacy issues if it took power by force and then later nuancing it to the slam only Haqqani group and groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). While the Haqqani group has targeted the Indian embassy in Kabul, the LeT and JeM foment terrorism in Kashmir.
Russian and India agreed to set up a joint team of foreign affairs and national security officials to assess the situation in Afghanistan. As world leaders debate how or whether to engage with the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan, Russia has sought to assure its long-time partner India that New Delhi’s views matter. India and Russia define their ties as a “special and privileged strategic partnership”.
India announced that it would raise $80.87 billion through an asset-leasing program to free up government budget funds for infrastructure projects, a measure which may boost Chinese companies’ expectations of participating in the plan. However, Chinese companies urged the Indian government to obey the spirit of contract and improve the country’s business environment.