There Are More Than Two Countries

I agree with Carl Jaison’s point in his piece at The Diplomat that an Indian-Russian alliance is more likely than not:

As India expresses keen interest in shoring up its energy supplies from Russia’s Far East, the broader contour of the development is the two countries’ strategic convergence on the region’s issues. In the Indo-Pacific, India and Russia have carved out a unique strategy to amplify their own machinations. While New Delhi has sought to break free from the U.S.-China geopolitical rivalry in the region, Moscow has come up with a compelling strategy in the form of the Eastern Economic Forum to build strategic relationships with Asian countries to limit its reliance on China. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, India might have reservations about the Taliban’s rise to prominence at the expense of the democratically elected government in Kabul but having Russia as a channel to influence the Taliban after a U.S. withdrawal could play to India’s favor.

On the China front, India is seeking to diversify its options beyond the U.S.-led initiative and encourage a multi-stakeholder approach. This works in Russia’s interests, as it should know better than to put all its eggs in the Chinese basket. Despite their growing bonhomie, Russia is better off considering expanding its ties with other Asian countries like India, Vietnam, and Indonesia than solely piggybacking on China in matters relating to the Far East, Central Asia, and Asia as a whole.

I have always found the notion of a persistent Chinese-Russian alliance bizarre. The two countries are strategic competitors not likely allies. They can form a temporary alliance of convenience in the face of an aggressive and hostile United States but that won’t be something that is durable. Believe me, the Russians are aware of that.

The Indians and Russians on the other hand are not strategic competitors, their interests are complementary and they have a common adversary: China.

I wish Mr. Jaison had elaborated on the implications of a Russo-Indian alliance. Perhaps that will come in later pieces.

1 comment… add one
  • bob sykes Link

    Russia’s problems with China pale into insignificance compared to their problems with the US.

    Jaison doesn’t seem to understand the depth of connections Russia has with China. They are co-founders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which has as full members China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia have observer status. That amounts to about 40% of the world’s population and over 25% of its nominal GDP. (Likely half is PPP is used.)

    Note that Russia, China, India, and Pakistan are full members. That looks like a potential alliance to me.

    He also overlooks the effective merger of Russia’s Eurasian Union project with China’s One Belt One Road project. There is now one trans-Eurasian economic program underway.

    Considering its long history with the Soviet Union, and its ongoing military ties to Russia, some sort of alliance between Russia and India is possible. However, that alliance would necessarily include China and Pakistan. Putin’s strategic problem is how to broker a three-way deal with India, China, and Pakistan. There are real benefits to all four countries, if such a deal is possible. But the depth of the historic antagonisms is a real impediment, perhaps insurmountable.

    Note also that Iran has its nose under the SCO tent, and that China is investing heavily in Ukraine. And Russia has a cooperative relationship with Turkey, more so than we do. All told, it looks like a Eurasian integration is under way.

    If separating Russia from China is the goal, the US will need to actively improve its relations with Russia. That means forcing Ukraine to recognize Minsk II, and to implement it, and accepting Russia’s annexation of Crimea. There is an Atlanticist faction in Putin’s government (Medvedev?), and Putin, himself, once favored Russian membership in both the EU and NATO. Perhaps that is still possible, but we have to back down.

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