Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India and Russia: Ties that Bind

November 12, 2018
Aaditya Dave
This is a summary of an article originally published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

The author writes that “the joint statement released during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India last month emphasized Moscow and New Delhi’s ‘Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.’” While the phrase had been used before, the author notes, both countries have recently "broadened their strategic horizons” and look "to be drifting apart." Even arms sales, a long-standing tie, is changing due to increased U.S.-Indian cooperation on defense and security. India's turn to the U.S. is partly motivated by China's rise in the region and "the emergence of a constellation of international actors seeking to balance this influence, a process in which it is difficult to see Russia playing a significant role." However, India continues to be important to Russia's defense exports. Complicating the relationship further, Russia has also begun to establish a stronger military relationship with Pakistan. "In spite of these shifts, it is unlikely that India and Russia will disentangle their defense relationship beyond a certain point." For example, Russia has been vital in establishing India's nuclear triad and space industries. In conclusion, the author writes that “there is a strategic imperative for both India and Russia to sustain a strong bilateral relationship. For India, this provides the foundation for an increased focus on energy ... [and]  represents a close link with a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council ... For both India and Russia, the sizable defense equipment portfolio ensures that there is sufficient stake in the relationship to prevent a lurch toward the U.S. by India or toward China by Russia.”

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Aaditya Dave

Aaditya Dave is a research analyst focusing on South Asia at the Royal United Services Institute.

Photo by shared under a CC BY 4.0 license.