India, Russia ties have been steady over 7 decades, says Jaishankar
India's External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, has stated that India and Russia have maintained steady relations for over seven decades based on the principle that a neighbor's neighbor is well-disposed towards you. He also noted that Russia's focus will shift towards the non-western world, especially Asia, due to the crisis in Ukraine. Jaishankar emphasized the exceptional and stable nature of the India-Russia relationship compared to other global relationships. He suggested that India will also be part of Russia's calculations as it turns towards Asia.
Washington: For both India and Russia, the age old international relations principle that a neighbour’s neighbour is fundamentally well-disposed towards you has been the ingredient for steady relations over seven decades, external affairs minister S Jaishankar has said, giving credit to early Indian diplomacy for recognising this geopolitical fact.
The minister also reiterated his sense that as a result of the crisis in Ukraine, Russia will turn more towards the non-western world in general, and Asia in particular.
Asked about both Delhi-Moscow ties and his description of the relationship as geopolitical, and the growing proximity between China and Russia, at a thinktank event in Washington DC on Friday, Jaishankar said, “This approach isn’t something new. Since Independence, this has been the basic thinking about our geopolitical predicament. If there are three major polities occupying central landmass of the world, how do you ensure there is balance, and how do you ensure that you not facing an adverse balance?”
He said that there was a phase in the late 1940s, during Stalin’s Soviet Union, which was particularly testing for India. “But I think the Indian diplomacy sensibly set to work on the basic principle of neighbour’s neighbour…your neighbour’s neighbour is intrinsically well-disposed towards you. Since the 1950s, there has been a systematic and mutual cultivation. It isn’t just us think about Soviet Union and then Russia, it is also Russia thinking about India with the same principle.” This, he said, was very powerful logic “in our part of the world”.
Jaishankar then reiterated that while every other relationship — US-Russia, China-Russia, US-China, Europe-Russia — had seen volatility and ups and downs, the India-Russia relationship was “exceptional”. “It is steady. It may not be spectacular. It may have stabilised at a certain level but it hasn’t seen the same kind of ups and downs”.
He then added that as a consequence of Ukraine, it was clear to him that Russia’s relations with the west had broken down and Moscow would focus on the Asian side of Russia. “You are seeing a reinvention of Russia. Much of that will naturally focus on China because that is the first and largest economy when Russia turns to Asia. But India will come into the calculations as well.”