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Why is India reluctant to take a stronger stance on Russia‘s invasion?
The Hundred #7: May 3, 2022
Three scholars of Indian foreign policy explain why India is so reluctant to take a stronger stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. If you aren’t signed up yet, you can subscribe for free below.
“India finds itself in a tight spot. Its dependence on Russia for military supplies (50-80%) is huge. A reliable supply matters, given especially India’s difficult neighborhood. But India’s dependence on Russia has a tragic irony today: through its reluctance towards criticizing Russia on Ukraine, India may also be strengthening authoritarian China’s hand. A way out of this bind – for India, and others hoping for a more value-based diplomacy from the world’s largest democracy – is diversification of supply chains in strategically important sectors. Deepened EU-India cooperation – on trade as well as dual-use technology, infrastructure, and security – will be crucial towards this.”
“India’s response to the invasion of Ukraine has evolved as the conflict has worsened. New Delhi has gone from referring to “legitimate security interest of all sides” to unequivocally condemning the civilian killings in Bucha, reiterating respect for international law, territorial integrity, and stating that India is “strongly against the conflict”. But India, like many in the region, does not want to fall in the “West versus the rest” dichotomy. It needs to work with Russia because it faces an aggressive China. As Moscow and Beijing grow closer, New Delhi may not have a choice but to revise its position.”
“There are several sentimental and self-interested reasons. Russia - and before that, the Soviet Union - has long been a good diplomatic friend to India, standing by it in the United Nations. For decades, Russia has supplied the bulk of India's weapons, including sensitive technologies like nuclear-powered submarines that New Delhi cannot easily get elsewhere. New Delhi fears that criticising Russia will push it wholly into Beijing’s arms, strengthening China and weakening India’s position. After all, Russia features prominently in India's geopolitical imagination, as a pole in a future world order free from domination by any one power.”
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