Is the US pushing India closer to Russia?
May, 23 2023
With the current geopolitical scenario, one cannot help but wonder if the United States is pushing India closer to Russia. As a blogger, I have been observing this trend for quite some time now and have decided to pen down my thoughts in this article. I have divided it into nine sections, each discussing a different aspect of this phenomenon. Let's dive in and understand whether the US is indeed pushing India towards Russia or if it's just a myth.
The US-India Relationship
Over the years, the United States and India have shared a tumultuous relationship. However, in recent times, the two countries have grown closer, especially in terms of defense and trade partnerships. The US has become one of India's largest trading partners, with a bilateral trade of over $142 billion in 2018.
On the defense front, the US has agreed to sell advanced military equipment to India, such as fighter jets and drones. This significant development has been seen as a strategic move to counter the growing Chinese influence in the region. Despite the strong bond between these two countries, certain factors are causing a strain in their relationship and pushing India closer to Russia.
The Russia-India Relationship
India and Russia have always shared strong bilateral ties, starting from the days of the Soviet Union. The two countries have a long history of military and strategic cooperation, with Russia being the largest supplier of arms to India. Over the years, several key defense deals have been signed between the two countries, including the purchase of advanced fighter jets, submarines, and missile systems.
Moreover, India and Russia have also collaborated on various mega infrastructure projects, such as the construction of nuclear power plants and gas pipelines. The strong bond between the two countries has always been a cause of concern for the US, and it seems like recent events are pushing India even closer to Russia.
The CAATSA Conundrum
In 2017, the US Congress passed the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), imposing economic sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The act also targets countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors. This has put India in a tough spot, as it continues to purchase weapons and other military equipment from Russia.
Although the US has granted waivers to some countries that continue to buy Russian arms, there is no guarantee that India will be exempted. This uncertainty has led India to reconsider its defense deals with the US, and in turn, strengthen its ties with Russia, as it does not want to jeopardize its long-standing military relationship with the latter.
China's Growing Influence
China's growing influence in Asia and beyond has been a significant concern for both India and the US. The two countries have been working together to counterbalance China's assertiveness in the region. However, the US's efforts to contain China have not always yielded positive results, leaving India to explore other options to safeguard its interests.
India sees Russia as a reliable partner in its quest to counter China's influence, especially in South Asia. Russia has maintained a neutral stance on the India-China border dispute and has even offered to mediate between the two countries. This neutrality has endeared Russia to India, making it a more attractive partner than the US in this regard.
India is heavily dependent on imported oil and gas to meet its growing energy needs. The US's sanctions on Iran, one of India's primary oil suppliers, have forced India to look for alternative sources of energy. Russia, with its vast hydrocarbon reserves, has emerged as a viable option for India to diversify its energy imports.
India and Russia have signed several agreements to collaborate in the oil and gas sector, including the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in the Arctic region. These energy deals further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries, pushing India closer to Russia.
The Indo-Pacific Strategy
The US's Indo-Pacific Strategy aims to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region, with India playing a central role in it. However, India has been cautious in embracing the strategy, as it does not want to antagonize China. Moreover, the strategy's primary focus on containing China has raised concerns about its long-term impact on regional peace and stability.
India prefers a more inclusive approach that includes dialogue and cooperation with all regional players, including Russia. This approach aligns with Russia's vision of a Greater Eurasian Partnership, which seeks to promote economic integration and security cooperation among Eurasian countries. This convergence of interests between India and Russia undermines the US's Indo-Pacific Strategy and pushes India closer to Russia.
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) – comprising the US, India, Japan, and Australia – is another aspect of the US's Indo-Pacific Strategy. While India is a part of the Quad, it has been careful not to let it become an anti-China coalition. India's cautious approach towards the Quad stems from its concerns about the grouping's impact on its relations with both China and Russia.
Russia has openly expressed its reservations about the Quad, calling it a divisive initiative aimed at containing China. India's participation in the Quad has led to speculations about a possible strain in its ties with Russia. However, India's balanced approach towards the Quad and its continued engagement with Russia indicate that it is not letting the US dictate its foreign policy.
In conclusion, it is evident that there are multiple factors at play that are pushing India closer to Russia. While the US and India continue to maintain strong ties, the uncertainty surrounding CAATSA, the need to counterbalance China's influence, and energy security concerns have all contributed to India's deepening relationship with Russia.
Furthermore, India's cautious approach towards the US's Indo-Pacific Strategy and the Quad indicate that it is not willing to let its foreign policy be dictated solely by its relationship with the US. As a result, India is likely to continue fostering strong ties with Russia, regardless of its relationship with the United States.