Russia and India have been close friends for nearly 70 years. Russia and China, meanwhile, got particularly close only recently. But here’s the rub: China and India are not exactly fond of one another.
The United States is trying to steal India from Russia’s embrace in order to join forces against China. But India has “remained independent,” Russian experts believe.
During a recent Russia in Global Affairs: Indian and Russian perspective conference, Russian experts agreed that the U.S. fails to form any alliance with India to counter China.
Saying that there is “no evidence” that India is keen on becoming America’s ally to counter China, Dmitry Suslov, deputy director of one of Russia’s leading universities, assured that India remains loyal to Moscow.
But here’s the problem with such an optimistic (for the Russians) opinion. There’s a huge conflict of interests in the Asian region now. Why? Because Russia can’t pick a side if it’s China or India’s ally.
Russia is fueling China vs India conflict
Russia has been India’s key weapons supplier for several decades, while Moscow’s military deals with China have grown in popularity only recently.
For now, Russia is getting away with its two-faced stance. It’s predicted that it’s only a matter of time before either China or India tell Russia to finally pick a side.
China and India are not exactly best pals. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2014 found that a whopping 72% of Indians were worried that China’s territorial disputes with its neighbors could lead to a military confrontation.
What makes matters even worse is that China is a traditional ally of Pakistan. Pakistan, in its turn, is a No. 1 enemy of India. The majority of people in both New Delhi and Beijing view each other negatively.
China, Russia alliance can counter US supremacy
But what about China-Russian relations? According to Suslov, Moscow will continue its cooperation with Beijing, not as an ‘ally, but rather as a partner.
The political expert also believes that it’s Moscow who’s dictating terms and conditions of its relationship with Beijing. Pretty much all Western leaders, meanwhile, view Russia as a mere ‘toy’ for China.
Nandan Unnikrishnan, VP of the Observer Research Foundation, assured that Russia-China alliance can easily counter America’s supremacy. Unnikrishnan said Russia becoming “an adjunct of China” would be “the greatest threat” to the U.S. hegemony.
And while Moscow and Beijing are already manifesting clear sings of forming a powerful alliance, what does it mean for India?
India is dependent on Russia’s weapons
China largely relies on Russia’s advanced and unmatched weaponry technology. For India, meanwhile, Moscow remains the key weapons supplier.
To this day, China doesn’t have weaponry as advanced and revolutionary as Russia’s. But China is slowly learning from the Russians.
Is it fair to say that Beijing would abandon its friendship with Moscow if caught up to Russia in terms of military tech? Could be.
But India, which is the biggest weapons importer in the world, cannot produce weapons even remotely as advanced as Russia’s. So India’s security and safety is shackled to Russia’s military equipment.
That’s why India remains mute about Russia’s recent warming relations with its traditional nemesis, Pakistan. New Delhi simply can’t risk its military deals with Moscow right now.
Especially not at times when the India vs Pakistan conflict over Kashmir has reached new heights recently.
Russia’s risky weapons games with China and India
Moscow sits pretty comfortably right now. With India’s defense spending expected to go over $250 billion over the next decade, Russia will be there to grab that money.
Russia has lots to offer to India, and India just cannot say ‘no’ to Russia’s advanced submarines, missiles and fighter aircraft. India has the goal to stock up on Russia’s revolutionary weapons in order to counter Pakistan.
China is no stranger to purchasing Russia’s advanced weaponry either. But Beijing’s goal is to match U.S. military power in the Asia Pacific.
But since China and India view one another as potential war enemies, Russia is risking a lot. Moscow must be balancing between the two countries so that neither one feels weakened.
If Russia fails, it risks losing one, or even two at the same time, super-lucrative weapons market.
Why Russia’s weapons are so awesome?
As of today, both China and India seem comfortable about purchasing the same weapons from Moscow. Both New Delhi and Beijing purchased from Russia its Mi-17 helicopter, Su-27 jet fighter, the S-400 missile defense system and the Il-76 Ilyushin transport aircraft.
That’s because both India and China are keen on purchasing the very advanced and most expensive weaponry in the world. And they can surely afford it.
In fact, a situation when rival nations are purchasing the same weapons would be viewed as ‘wild’ in the Cold War era. Several decades ago, the West and its allies stocked up on weapons only from NATO states. Russia’s allies, meanwhile, purchased weapons only from Moscow.
But what is it about Russia’s weapons in particular that is so attractive? It’s first of all that Moscow produces the most advanced weapons in the world. And second of all it’s because Russia doesn’t control how those weapons will be used after selling them.
Russia has a lot to offer… and a lot to lose
That’s actually the key reason how Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed to make Russia’s defense industry so popular. Moscow has zero control over usage of those weapons. The U.S., meanwhile, imposes sanctions in case its weapons are used wrongfully.
But what is Russia getting out of all this? First of all, Moscow is cashing in BIG TIME. Second of all, by selling weapons to China, Russia is hoping to defeat America’s global dominance in the long run.
And third of all, it’s China and India who have made Russia’s defense industry so lucrative today. Without its defense deals with Beijing and New Delhi over the years, Moscow wouldn’t have many international weapons markets.
China and India helped Russia revive its defense industry with their massive orders. Because after the collapse the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia lost many of its lucrative international weapons markets.
So Russia has A LOT to lose when it flirts with both China and Pakistan on one side and India on the other side.