A tested partnership

At a time of churn in Af-Pak, Russia and India cannot lose confidence in each other.

There are many levels of engagements between India and Russia, ranging from the bilateral to the regional and international, covering components from defence, security, economy and politics. These are ongoing processes, with roots stretching into India's deep past. It is important that the engagement in each area deepens. Currently, progress in some of these areas has stalled. Has the prime minister's trip to Moscow earlier this week brought new clarity to the relationship?

The strength of India-Russia relations lay in their common understanding that even while there were elements of anarchy in the international system, states could and should collectively construct a more law- and norm-based international system that enables states like India and others from the global South to exercise independent foreign policies linked to their national development, unhampered by the hegemonic interests of any great power. The idea of non-alignment and multipolarity flow from this conceptualisation.

Domestic churn on several fronts, including the nuclear issue, and external exigencies, especially the deal-making between the US and the Taliban, where Pakistan will again be a key player, are changing the geo-strategic scenario for India. Russia is again an important, if not indispensable, ally, since Russia, India and Iran have the most to lose from the Af-Pak situation. This is where this visit has been most crucial.

Clearly, the terms of engagement between Moscow and Delhi have elements of both continuity and change, and their history is not going to repeat itself in the same way. All status quoist, re-emerging and emerging powers have multiple interfaces with each other. So Russia and India should not lose confidence in each other, a point driven home by the PM in his address as he received an honorary doctorate.

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