by Monotapash Mukherjee

In diplomacy, several behind the scene activities take place among the countries about which the common citizens have little or no knowledge. During the Kargil war the US forced India to allow free passage to the Pakistani intruders holed up inside Indian territory. Indian pilots were also ordered not to cross the LoC. Again during the Balakot air strike, when Abhinandan Vartaman, the IAF pilot was captured by the Pakistani forces, India reportedly secured his release through the intervention of Saudi Arabia & the US .Most recently during the Galwan clash between India & China , Russia reportedly told China to release the ten captured Indian soldiers. These few instances amplify how during especially during the wartime, the powerful countries prevail.

Coming to the present context, India is in the midst of a complex diplomatic vortex between the US & Russia concerning China.

Most of the Indians, till now, are nostalgic & starry- eyed about the so-called golden days of the Indo-Soviet friendship & romantic about the current Indo-Russian strategic alliance. But they fail to realize that countries are guided by their own national interest & there is nothing such as permanent friend or permanent foe in diplomacy. The hard fact is that India has always been a golden goose for the erstwhile USSR & the present day Russia, pouring billions in their coffers from the lucrative defence contracts .Mostly this has been a buyer-seller relationship without any real transfer of technology. Indo-Soviet or Indo-Russian defence relationship, in the field of high technology, gets belittled when compared to Sino-Pak or Turkey –NATO strategic relationship .Despite investing millions in the FGFA program, India had to abandon the project as the Russians were unwilling to part with the source code of the jet .Russia shared the S400 knowhow with Turkey but not with India. Russia did not contribute fruitfully to the Indian missile program citing MTCR restrictions & India had to spend decades with developing indigenous technologies. Russia despite being a world-beater in hypersonic technology with several hypersonic missiles under its possession like Kinjhal , Sarmat, Zircon, Skyfall etc. is loathe to provide India with this technology even with a short –range missile like Brahmos. In the field of ultra-modern defence technology like radar, jet engine, ASAT, autonomous system, missile defence, cyber warfare, drones, etc there is no collaborative venture between the two. Admiral Gorshkov refurbished aircraft carrier has been a classic example of huge cost & time overrun. Furthermore Russia is browbeating India to cancel the South Korean mobile anti-aircraft system for its own Panstir system. When India tried to modify its Sukhoi aircraft for air-launched Brahmos, the Russians demanded a huge amount. Ultimately the Indian scientists finished the task with a fraction of the cost. As India is gradually moving towards the US, Russia is using blackmail as a weapon against India. Reportedly Russia spread rumours that it was considering selling S400 to Pakistan. Though initially reluctant to buy this because of its prohibitive cost, India rushed to buy the system .Russia is gradually improving its military relationship with Pakistan with full blessings of China .Recently, to India’s consternation , Russia has agreed to sell jet engines for China –Pak jointly produced jets .Russia –Pak –China axis has been set up on Afghanistan.

In fact, the Indo-US proximity is alarming China. India’s reluctance to designate the QUAD as a military alliance stems not only from India’s desire to appease China but also to pacify Russia. India has left no stone unturned to convince Russia that the QUAD not against Russia. India has invited Russia in the Indo-Pacific .India has also conveyed to Russia that its vision of the Indo-Pacific also includes the Russian Far-East. To allay Russian fears regarding its LEMOA with the US India is going to sign a similar agreement with Russia by the year end. India knows that Russia is drifting away. It is not so vocal against Pakistan & terrorism. Therefore India is cultivating France as a strategic partner.

In fact, Russia wants to erect an anti-US alliance. So it is eager to nourish the SCO, the BRICS, the RIC, etc. India’s dilemma starts there .China has become a full-blown existential threat for India. It wants Arunachal & Ladakh .It has built CPEC on Pak-occupied territory of India. It supports the Burmese & North-East insurgents against India .It backs terrorists from Pakistan. It is instigating Nepal against India .It is reportedly running a bio-warfare lab in Pakistan against India. In this situation, it is clear that India will never find Russian support against China. Thus Russia has become a strategic handicap for India .But the hurried visit by our defence minister to Russia proves that the Indian govt. is under heavy influence of Russia.

In view of these circumstances, the actions & reactions of the Indian govt. raises several questions. Post –Galwan incident, there was a massive outcry from the Indian citizenry demanding dumping of One China Policy, recognition of Taiwan, support for Tibet, Hong Kong & Xinjiang struggle, militarization of the QUAD, declaring the Andamans as the QUAD headquarter ,banning Huawei from India,& basing the Indian navy in the South China Sea. Till date no steps have been taken regarding all these. Furthermore, Indian ambassador to Russia indicates India is awaiting complete disengagement for normal relationship with China. Is Russia playing from behind & pressurizing India for reconciliation? Chances are high that Russia is brokering peace between China & India, because the graver the situation becomes, the closer will be the Indo-US relationship which Russia does not want. .I sense India is approaching the booby-trap!!!

Monotapash Mukherjee tracks military and aerospace issues closely. Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN