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WASHINGTON – The strategic relationship between Russia and India has been strained recently by improvements in India’s relationship with the United States.
Analysts, however, believe Moscow and Delhi will need to reinforce their six-decades-old alliance to offset a mutual threat – China – in their respective spheres of influence, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
“Strategic challenges for both Russia and India arise from China’s unrestrained military aggressiveness and brinkmanship over maritime sovereignty issues in South East Asia and East Asia and escalation of tensions in the unsettled border regions of the India-China Occupied Tibet borders,” according to Subhash Kapila of the South Asia Analysis Group.
The fact that the U.S. has made what analysts call a “strategic pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region also has worried Russia, which sees U.S. competition in many of the same countries in which Moscow is trying to cultivate its own strategic interests.
China’s assertiveness similarly has Moscow’s attention.
“For any strategic pivot to Asia-Pacific by Russia, it cannot depend on China to further its national interests as there are inherent strategic contradictions in their respective national aspirations,” Kapila said.
However, Moscow will be looking to such countries as Vietnam, with which it has had a historic relationship, to help fulfill its aspirations in the Asia-Pacific region.
Russia has sold an increasing amount of military equipment to Vietnam and has entered into numerous trade arrangements to help solidify the relationship.
Russia and Vietnam both share borders with China.
Despite its recently enhanced relationship with the U.S., India believes it still hasn’t provided the strategic insurance that it thought it would have in its disputes with China and Pakistan.
For this reason, India is faced with its own dilemma: whether to reinvigorate its older relationship with Russia or pursue a yet untested strategic partnership with the U.S.
Analysts believe India may tilt more toward the Russians.
“Russia is not carrying any ‘Pakistan baggage’ in its policy approaches in South Asia and towards India,” Kapila said. “The Russia-India Strategic Partnership is better placed to serve India’s national security interests.
“To some Indians, it may be devoid of glamorous embellishments, but then in the end-game in strategically and politically turbulent times for India, a strategic partnership requires the assured stability of a strongly and deeply embedded ‘sheet anchor,'” Kapila said. “The Russia-India strategic partnership carries that distinction which stands historically validated.”
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