Home » What Modi and Putin hope to gain from their Moscow summit

What Modi and Putin hope to gain from their Moscow summit

by Marko Florentino
0 comment


Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has arrived in Russia for his first one-to-one summit with Vladimir Putin since the Russian leader launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

It is a hugely symbolic choice of destination for Modi’s first bilateral visit since being sworn in for his third term as prime minister, and one that the Kremlin has gloated about as making the West “jealous”.

Modi is also breaking away from a tradition that normally sees Indian prime ministers start their term with a first visit to neighbouring South Asian countries like Sri Lanka, the Maldives or Bhutan.

And it reflects India’s growing confidence in its ability to play both sides in the East-West divide that has grown dramatically since Russia began waging war on Ukraine. Modi will follow up his visit to Moscow with one to Austria, which has backed Ukraine’s bid to join the EU and provided it hundreds of millions of euros in humanitarian aid.

Putin and Modi were scheduled to hold informal talks over dinner on Monday night before a day of meetings on Tuesday.

India’s foreign ministry said they would discuss the “multiple geopolitical challenges that the world has been facing”, and that the visit showed the two countries continue to enjoy “resilient” ties. Embarking on the plane to Russia on Monday, Modi said he will review “all aspects of bilateral cooperation” with Mr Putin and seek to play a “supportive role for a peaceful and stable region”.

File Russian president Vladimir Putin, right, and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo shaking hands prior to their talks on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on 16 September 2022.
File Russian president Vladimir Putin, right, and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo shaking hands prior to their talks on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on 16 September 2022. (AP)

Putin, who is making a concerted effort to showcase the support of his allies to legitimise his war and counter Western efforts to cast him as a pariah on the international stage, said “no topics will be off limits” between the two leaders, according to the Kremlin.

The Indian government has neither condemned nor condoned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and while Modi made his first foreign trip of his third term to join the G7 in Italy last month, he then skipped a Western-led Ukraine peace summit hosted by Switzerland. India was represented at those talks by its ambassador and did not sign a joint communique at the end of the meeting, insisting that Russia must be involved in negotiations.

Harsh V Pant, professor of international relations at King’s College London, tells The Independent that a Putin-Modi meeting was “long overdue” given the way geopolitical tectonic plates are shifting as a result of Ukraine.

There is a rich history to India-Russia relations, with Delhi having relied heavily on Moscow for arms imports for many decades. Since the Ukraine war began India has also bought huge volumes of cheap Russian oil after the US and European countries imposed sanctions, helping Putin fill his war chest.

Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky (C-L) meeting Modi during a bilateral meeting in Borgo Egnazia, southern Italy, 14 June 2024
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky (C-L) meeting Modi during a bilateral meeting in Borgo Egnazia, southern Italy, 14 June 2024 (EPA)

Yet India has been uncomfortable with how close Putin has drawn to China, its major Asian rival with whom it has frosty border relations. And India has also been forced to diversify away from Russian arms given Moscow’s military commitments in Ukraine, buying more from the US, Israel, France and Italy.

“These talks will be about how to build the India-Russia relationship as, whatever it might seem from the outside, it is not as healthy as it seems,” says Pant. “It is a new world. India does not have a very robust economic partnership with Russia. So of course the strategic realities are changing. India would like to understand and engage with Russia on its own terms.”

With this trip, India is sending a clear signal to the US that it will hedge its bets on defence purchases, just as the US is doing by once again opening the doors to China.

“The [potential] gains for India from this summit are significant in comparison to [those for] Russia,” Dr Rafiq Dossani, a senior economist at the Rand Corporation think-tank, tells The Independent.

“By properly playing its hand, it can position itself as a power worth more than China, whose relations with Europe have taken a beating because of its stance. This can allow India to be the prime broker of a peace in Ukraine down the road,” he says.

India will also seek to maintain its steady supply of Russian energy as it seeks to pivot from its dependency on the volatile Middle East market and other sources like Venezuela, he says.

Analysts say India will also seek reassurances when it comes to arms cooperation, with India’s military still operating with large volumes of Russian hardware.

“Defence cooperation will clearly be a priority area,” says Chietigj Bajpaee, senior South Asia research fellow at Chatham House. “We’ve seen some delay in the deliveries of spare parts … following the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” he said. “I believe both countries are due to conclude a military logistics agreement, which would pave the way for more defence exchanges.”

For Russia, the optics of the visit are likely to be more important than any tangible outcomes. As well as multiple recent meetings with China’s Xi Jinping, the Russian president has visited North Korea and then Vietnam to project the image of a world leader who still enjoys international backing.

Modi’s visit to Moscow is the most significant achievement yet in that campaign, Pant argues, as India is both an important counterweight to China within the Asia-Pacific while also enjoying robust ties with the West.

“Putin’s efforts to court India indicate that Russia seeks to demonstrate resilience against Western isolation and assert its independence in managing relations with China,” Mr Pant explains.

“I don’t think Russia wants to be perceived as a junior partner of China. By engaging robustly with India, Russia signals to China its desire to maintain its own distinct space. With Russia increasingly isolated from the West, it risks being seen as subordinate to China, a perception it likely wants to avoid.”



Source link

You may also like

Leave a Comment

NEWS CONEXION puts at your disposal the widest variety of global information with the main media and international information networks that publish all universal events: news, scientific, financial, technological, sports, academic, cultural, artistic, radio TV. In addition, civic citizen journalism, connections for social inclusion, international tourism, agriculture; and beyond what your imagination wants to know

RESIENT

FEATURED

                                                                                                                                                                        2024 Copyright All Right Reserved.  @markoflorentino