There is a lot of talk about Chinese-American relations and the confrontation between these countries in various fields. Less about India, which – as shown by the war in Ukraine – also shows its subjectivity to the world.
Neutrality for benefits
Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, India has been trying to show its neutrality in the conflict by not adhering to Western sanctions on Russia, which irritates the US and is welcomed by Putin. For Indians, the conflict beyond our eastern border is treated as distant and intra-European. Trying to play different pianos, they try to take advantage of the situation as much as possible, knowing that their position is important to both Russia and the US in the context of Putin’s problems and isolation and the American-Chinese rivalry. Hindu leaders are also aware of the crucial importance of a stable and cheap food and energy resource for the vast Indian population of almost 1.5 billion, still mostly poor. Hence, the politics of values recedes into the background. India’s role in the world is also growing because it is a significant player in the raw material markets, although dependent on their import. Import provides 85 percent. India’s oil demand, and India’s overall demand is projected to increase by 8.2% this year. They are the third importer and consumer in the world. Therefore, it is not surprising that the country is interested in Russian oil while Putin offers 20 percent. discounts below world reference prices. From February 24, i.e. from the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, to April, India bought at least 13 million barrels of Russian oil – compared to almost 16 million barrels in the entire year 2021. Recently, it has overtaken other Asian countries in terms of imports, getting closer in this respect to China.
They keep with everyone
India is probably the only country in the world that is able to be a member of various international organizations grouping countries with such divergent interests. These are organizations such as QUAD, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or the IPEF (Indo-Pacific Economic Framework) under the American umbrella. Let us remind you. QUAD is a political agreement between the USA, Japan, India and Australia, created by Donald Trump and developed by President Biden, which is a response to the growing position of China in the region. The BRICS is a system of emerging world economies – China, India, South Africa, Russia (now more collapsing) and Brazil, whose brain is China. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a security agreement between Russia, China, India, Pakistan and the countries of Central Asia. IPEF, on the other hand, is the latest American initiative of cooperation with 13 countries of Southeast Asia, excluding China, and covering the issues of supply chains, taxes, anti-corruption, trade, energy and medical cooperation. Interestingly, here, India has also shown its independence by announcing that it will only join 3 of the 4 pillars of the agreement, officially expressing skepticism towards US environmental, labor and public procurement requirements. However, an important point of contention with the US are, in fact, the requirements for the protection of online privacy, cybersecurity and data used by tech companies. The Indian authorities, like the Chinese, want to control Big Tech more, which often does not correspond to the Western approach and use frequent censorship measures against social media. India also imposes, for example, restrictions on the cryptocurrency market (China has banned them completely), which is associated with plans to launch, like the Chinese, its own digital currency. India’s participation in such a variety of cooperation formats demonstrates tremendously developed opportunities and skills to maintain good relations with extremely different partners. This leads to a situation in which – within a short period of time – India is participating in joint military maneuvers with Russia (partially directed against Japan) and planning exercises with Japan and the US in the context of the Chinese threat.
Friendship with Russia runs deep
India’s friendly attitude towards Russia is not a matter of recent events. The developed relations of these countries go back to the Cold War era, when the country was in close relations with the USSR (Pakistan, in conflict with India, was backed by the United States, which now has very close relations with China). The Soviets supported India in the supply of military equipment, which remains to this day, although the share of Russian purchases is much smaller. The country is also a significant recipient of Russian military equipment. Even after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, despite pressure from the US, India purchased air-to-air anti-missile systems from Russia (the contract was concluded before the Russian invasion). The Russians are also investing in Indian nuclear energy. Currently, India recognizes China as the main competitor in Asia, with which until recently it had a border dispute in the Gogra-Hot Springs region in the Himalayas, as a result of which 20 Indian soldiers were killed 2 years ago (it has recently been softened and both sides have withdrawn from the disputed areas). ). India is also concerned about China’s growing economic influence. This applies both to the expansion of Chinese technology companies, which Indian authorities accuse of financial fraud and a threat to data security, but also to expansion in the Indian Ocean, which is reflected in huge Chinese port investments in Sri Lanka or on the eastern coast of Africa.
For India, relations with Russia and the USA are a guarantor of keeping the balance in Asia in the face of pushing China. The possible fear of Chinese domination in the region is the reason why India is the only major country in the region to refuse at the last minute to join the RCEP (Comprehensive Pacific Partnership) – the largest free trade zone in the world – with China and Japan, Australia and South Korea. and other Southeast Asian countries. The fact is that Indian nationalism has been on the rise since the Bharatiya Janata Party (Bharatiya Janata Party) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in the country in 2014. This party is a national-conservative group with a strong religious face, which leads to frequent discrimination against the Muslim minority, but also against Christians. At the same time, it is a party representing the Indian middle class and business. India’s politics should be watched closely. This country has a huge population and economic potential – it is currently the fifth economy in the world, larger than the British or French, and the ambiguous international policy of this country has a huge impact on the global balance and the balance of power.