13 April, 2021

Gas And The Greater Game

Indian diplomacy during Putin’s visit was masterful, but defence cooperation alone cannot sustain the relationship—more economic content is vital

Putin and Modi exuded warmth when they met
Photograph by Jitender Gupta
Gas And The Greater Game

Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to tack on the highly modified foreign policy course begun by his Wuhan initiative with China. The outcome of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit has been dramatic: not only has the government set right India’s waning ties with Russia, it has also stood for reaffirming India’s strategic autonomy. This was a diplomatic masterstroke; Indian foreign policy seemed to have regained its rigour and our mandarins learnt to play the new global power game rather skilfully.

Visibly, the comfort level between Putin and Modi exuded the bonhomie gained after their six-hour informal ‘agenda-less’ talks in Sochi last May when they had thrashed out most of the critical issues. PM Modi’s pronouncement that ties with Russia are “top priority” is a change from his earlier foreign policy team virtually dis­missing Russia as a spent force. Interestingly, according to one former official, even Manmohan Singh, after years of hobnobbing with Washington, finally felt more at home in Moscow when he was...

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