+

PM in Moscow: India’s interest paramount

The international think-tanks and activists are having a meltdown over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Russia visit and embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Given that the West has painted Putin as the devil incarnate who is killing Ukrainian babies, this was expected. Similar reaction was seen when India started buying Russian oil, leading External Affairs […]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow. ANI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow. ANI

The international think-tanks and activists are having a meltdown over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Russia visit and embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Given that the West has painted Putin as the devil incarnate who is killing Ukrainian babies, this was expected. Similar reaction was seen when India started buying Russian oil, leading External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to retort famously, “Somewhere Europe has to grow out of the mindset that Europe’s problems are the world’s problems but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems.” This, in a way, sums up the present situation too. India-Russia relationship is independent of India’s relationship with the West and is rooted in history. It’s a fact that Soviet Russia sided with India during times of war, especially the 1971 war, when the United States acted in every possible way to hurt India’s interests, including giving full support to Pakistan, whose military was committing a genocide in what is now Bangladesh. That India has become so dependent on Russian arms is because the West refused to give it critical technology, since it regarded it as belonging to the Soviet bloc. It is only in Prime Minister Modi’s tenure that India has started diversifying the sourcing of arms and started making them at home. Even then our military’s dependence on Russian arms continues and this visit was a lot about ensuring that the Indian military would not suffer because of supply chain glitches in spare parts, which was the case when the Ukraine-Russia war started two and a half years ago. The India-Russia joint statement speaks of “military and military technical cooperation” between the two countries, where joint manufacturing of spare parts, components, etc., and maintenance of Russian origin arms and defence equipment will take place in India. Russia has agreed to transfer technology to India and the joint statement also speaks of “subsequent export to mutually friendly third countries”—somewhat akin to India selling the Brahmos missile to the Philippines. Why should the United States in particular have any problem with this? India is not helping Russia build weapons that the latter can use against Ukrainians. It is the Chinese who are helping Russia boost production of weapons, according to the US. What action has China faced because of this? Nothing. The problem is western hypocrisy. The West may still have a problem with India buying crude from Russia, but is quite comfortable buying the same crude from India as refined petroleum products. It is well known by now that but for India, the West that brought a recession upon itself by trying to fix Russia, would have drowned in skyrocketing fuel prices. For that matter, China is still the biggest buyer of Russian crude, but not a word is heard against it on this issue. European Union is the top buyer of Russian gas, but somehow that escapes the scrutiny of western analysts.
Also all this talk about fighting Putin is fighting for freedom and democracy is hypocritical. By no yardstick can Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was selected by the West as President of Ukraine in a fixed election, and a man who has locked up his whole Opposition, can be called democratic. The West in its blind hatred for Russia, and in the vain hope that it would be able to overthrow Putin, has used Ukraine to carry on with this war, in the process bringing misery to millions of Ukrainians, apart from inflicting immense economic hardships on their own people. They have not allowed peace to prevail by acting as cheerleaders of Zelenskyy and by flooding him with money and materiel. In this obsession with Russia, the West is losing sight of the real threat of China. Sanctioning Russia has pushed Moscow into the arms of Beijing. For India, any Moscow-Beijing alliance is not happy news. Hence the PM’s visit to Moscow has to be seen from this angle too—nipping in the bud all possibilities of contending with two big hostile powers in its neighbourhood, China and Russia. The question now is, in case of trouble with China, will Russia take India’s side or will it stay neutral? Given India’s inventory of Russian weapons, what happens in case of a conflict with China? Will Russia ensure maintenance of India’s defence materiel and supply spare parts? These are complex scenarios that impact India’s interests directly. Ukraine is the last thing that should determine India-Russia relations. To paraphrase Mr Jaishankar, there is more to the world than the Russia-Ukraine war.

Tags: