28 July, 2021

Keeping Old Friends

Recent geostrategic concerns have pulled India and Russia in opposite directions. But the traditional allies have the maturity to respect each other’s core interests.

Two Stronger Men
Russian President Vladimir Putin with PM Modi in New Delhi in 2018. On April 5, Putin signed a law that allows him to hold office for two additional terms—he could remain president till 2036. The change was backed by a public vote and then passed in parliament.
Keeping Old Friends

Once the staunchest of friends, India and Russia hope to shore up fraying traditional ties at a time of a fluid and changing strategic environment. Whether the two Cold War allies will be able to resist global headwinds pitting them on opposite sides of the international divide is not clear. But neither Russia nor India wants to jeopardise a relationship that had yielded rich dividends in the past.

“India-Russia relations are losing some of its earlier intensity, yet both countries want to make sure that ties do not go into cold freeze or become defunct through inertia, so summit level meetings and talks between senior officials will remain in place,’’ says Nandan Unnikrishnan, a Russia expert at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

The equation between the two has, however, changed drastically, with India joining the Quad with the US, Japan and Australia, while Moscow is moving ever closer to India’s arch-rival, China. The fact that US President Joe Biden chose to hold a Quad summit so early in his term, on March 12, signifies that the...

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