Maintaining a balance between new and old friends has become a challenge for India amid changing global relationships and priorities.

The challenges posed by China, trade, and other issues are bringing India closer to the United States, and in such a scenario, Russia does not like India’s proximity to the West.

These new and old friends of India, the United States and Russia, are at odds with each other. Both countries keep blaming each other.

Russia and the United States have been embroiled in controversy over allegations of Russian interference in the US presidential election, and a war has erupted between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Joe Biden said in an interview that he considered Putin “dangerous.” At the same time, he said Putin would have to pay the price for his alleged interference in the 2020 US election.

In response, Vladimir Putin challenged the US president on Russian TV to speak to him live.

He used poetry in Russian schools, which means “others look the same to us as we are.”

Russia’s objections:

US Secretary of State Lloyd Austin is visiting India from March 19. He has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi since his arrival.

The visit is expected to discuss the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (CWD). The United States, Japan, Australia and India have formed a quad to address the challenges posed by China.

However, Russia has already expressed its displeasure over the quad. It has also posed a threat to its regional security.

The 20-year-old annual conference between Russia and India was not held last year and the quad is being cited as one of the reasons, but India and Russia have blamed the absence of the conference on the Corona epidemic.

Addressing the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs in a video conference December 8, the Russian foreign minister said Western countries were trying to weaken its close ties with India.

At the same time, the Russian military exercise with Pakistan has also made India restless.

US pressure on India:

The United States is skeptical of India’s purchase of the S400 missile system from Russia. A recent report by the US Congressional Congressional Research Service warns that India’s multibillion-dollar deal to buy Russian-made S400 air defense systems is due to the United States (CAATSA). It can also impose sanctions.

However, the outgoing US ambassador, Juster, insisted that “we do not take action against friends under the CAATSA.”

India is a major market for arms purchases for the United States, with Russia accounting for 56 per cent of India’s arms purchases. Here, too, Russia poses a challenge to the United States.

The United States and Russia are both important countries for India, but the challenge facing China and the tensions between Russia and the United States make it difficult for India to strike a balance at this stage.

China is a big factor:

Dr Harsh V. Pant, director of the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi and professor of international relations at King’s College London, says India has always maintained a balance between the two countries, but further strained relations. There is a fear of being born.

Harsh Pant explained that in the changing scenario, the foreign policies and priorities of Russia, the United States and India have changed.

“Russia is no longer what it used to be during the Cold War. For this, it is necessary that there be a country that stands by it. At the same time, feeling pressure from the West, Russia has adopted an anti-Western policy in which it sees China as its ally.

“India’s confrontation with China has divided the interests of India and Russia. China and India have a long-running border dispute. The armies of the two countries are facing each other. China and Pakistan remain a challenge for India.

In such a situation, the United States has emerged as a supportive country for India. The two countries have common interests with regard to China. In such a scenario, China has become a major factor in India’s relations with Russia and the United States. ‘

India’s problem is that it has to go with both Russia and the United States. India also challenges the position of US superpower through Russia. BRICS is an example of this, which includes Russia, China and India. These countries talk of a multipolar system.

India has some kind of relationship with all parties:

India and Russia have a long history of trust and strong ties. It is a big country with which India has no major differences. Russia is a major arms exporter to India and has been doing so since the end of the Cold War.

Russia’s capability and experience in key and strategic areas such as defense, trade, energy and space have been helpful to India. The BrahMos missile, the M46 gun, is a prime example of the strong India-Russia relationship in the defense sector.

At the same time, India’s relations with the United States are on many levels. The two countries have economic, trade, technological, immigration, energy, defense and political partnerships. When it comes to national security, the United States, China and Pakistan currently stand with India on the issue.

Sanjay K Bhardwaj, a professor at the Center for South Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, says India cannot choose between these countries.

It is also not true that cooperation with the United States has made Russia an opponent of India and an ally of China. Nor is it true that India rejects US cooperation in confronting China. In such a situation, India is adopting the vision of becoming part of many alliances.

“India has some kind of relationship with all parties,” he explains. Economic partnership with someone, political partnership with someone and political partnership with someone. It will have to adopt the same strategy with the United States and Russia. India has to be very careful about its interests.

Bilateral needs:

But experts also believe that India’s relations with Russia and the United States cannot be unilateral. All parties have their own preferences.

“International relations are based on interests and they change,” says Harsh Pant. This is not the Cold War era. At the time, Russia and China also lived in different camps, but now the two appear together. Similarly, partners are changing. Not only India needs America but Russia and America also need India.

Sanjay Bhardwaj says that Russia sees India as a defense market. He also sees India as an important ally in creating conditions against the United States because India is also an emerging power. He also wants Indian investment in his country. Cooperation between India and Russia was also seen in the development of the corona vaccine.

As for the United States, it has changed its foreign policy towards India since 2000. It is seen as a major market and strategic partner in India. We can understand this from the changing attitude of the United States towards Pakistan.

There was also a nuclear deal with India in 2005, for which the United States amended the constitution. It has started giving priority to India.

The United States needs India’s cooperation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, terrorism and trade. That is why, whether it is the Trump administration or the Biden administration, America’s attitude towards India has not changed. A section of the Democratic Party may be raising India’s internal affairs, but President Biden has not yet commented.

Just as maintaining a balance between Russia and the United States is a challenge for India, so too Russia and the United States will not want to lose India as an ally. So let’s see how these countries are able to adjust to changing priorities.

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