That the US is a country whose sole bedrock of all its alliances are military sales, should prove to India the destabilisation that is effected through such partnerships

A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of war with Russia. Russian warnings and subsequent proposals on security guarantees to the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) don’t seem to have been taken seriously. Things have come to head as Konstantin Gavrilov, head of the Russian delegation to Vienna on Military Security and Arms Control has warned of a “military response”.

Russia has not shied away from responding militarily. It intervened in Ukraine in 2014 when a popular referendum in Crimea voted for merging with Russia and before that in 2008 when Georgia attacked the breakaway pro-Russian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. That then National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon backed the “legitimate Russian interests” and drew Putin’s gratitude for “taking a restrained and objective” position, bore India’s correct reading of the situation. Neither will another endorsement of the Russian position today affect India and Ukraine’s limited defence ties. India sources marine engines for its warships from Zorya, or parts and upgrades for its Antonov An-32 medium lift transport fleet. Ukrainian government defence exporter Ukroboronprom actively participates in defence expos in India.

The US’s need for a semblance of stability in Eastern Europe by calling for Ukraine too to adhere the Minsk Agreements – which provides for negotiations with the breakaway pro-Russian Peoples Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been refusing – is also accompanied by a need to keep testing Russia’s red lines and keep the sway of European politics in the West’s favour.

The dubiousness of both the American and NATO role should be evident from the antecedents of governments themselves that the two back against Moscow. Zelensky’s anti-Russian resistance has been found to have neo-Nazi and rabidly anti-Semitic factions, with ties to the Azov Battalion and OUN-B groups, which had participated in anti-Jewish pogroms alongside the Wehrmacht. Georgia’s 2008 President Mikheil Saakashvili’s anti-Russian bombast had forced President George W. Bush and his National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley to ask him to pipe it down and take off any US military intervention on his behalf.

While it is a different matter that German and French governments are not entirely on board the US bandwagon given their calls for dialogue, they cannot entirely abandon their American ally either. The Russian proposal to the US provides for not using other countries territories against each other, and not deploying military bases, nuclear ballistic missiles and military exercises outside the others borders. Ironically, Russia does not have any military bases or deployed nuclear missiles outside Russia ; the US has 800 bases worldwide.

For NATO, Russia primarily calls for committing to exclude Ukraine’s NATO membership and not deploying forces in members as of 1997, before the bloc began admitting Eastern European countries. “Russia has not demanded guarantees from Ukraine that it will not accept NATO membership, and instead has called on NATO not to offer membership, which is framed as Russia dictating to its smaller neighbour what it should do,” says Russia expert Glenn Diesen from the University of South-Eastern Norway.

That it was the US itself under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton who had assured their counterparts Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin that NATO won’t eastwards, expanded it anyway and began the illegal invasion of Yugoslavia that led to the rise of Vladimir Putin, is lost. Declassified documents shed more light on the American deception in the scale of promises to Gorbachev and Yeltsin than the memoirs of Bush’s Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Clinton’s Russia hand Strobe Talbott.

Andrew Korybko, a Moscow-based foreign policy commentator pointed to how “India impressively recalibrated its multi-alignment policy earlier this month after the Putin-Modi Summit,” amidst threats of American sanctions over Indian purchase of the S-400 missile system. “Continuation of independent ties with Russia has also made India’s China relations manageable evidenced by this month’s successful Russia-India-China summit, which would not have been possible if India had not distanced itself from US-led military alliances,” Korybko added.

Even the Indo-Pak equation can improve with the Russian catalyst, given Moscow’s warming ties with Islamabad –something well envisioned in Russian diplomatic thinking. That Washington’s Australia-United Kingdom-United States security pact even took India surprise, beside its close allies Malaysia and Indonesia, has certainly disillusioned India. That the US is a country whose sole bedrock of all its alliances are military sales, should prove to India the destabilization that is effected through such partnerships.