India-The Most Opportunist Ally of Russia and the US

By Sajjad Shaukat

Machiavelli advises the rulers to have a lion-like image outwardly, and act upon the traits of goat inwardly. In his sense, a good ruler should be a good opportunist and hypocrite. While echoing Machiavelli, Morgenthau points out that sometimes, rulers act upon immoral activities like deceit, fraud and falsehood to fulfill their selfish aims. In one way or the other, these political philosophers also favour double game as part of shrewd diplomacy. But, India is openly acting upon the discarded theories of the past political thinkers in the modern era, which have proved that India is the most opportunist ally of Russia and the Unites States.

In this regard, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two-day visit to India, Russian President Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who also took part in the Russian-Indian Business Forum and apart from other agreements, signed on October 5, this year the $5 billion S-400 air defence system deal amid a threat of sanctions from the US.

Prime Minister Modi said in a joint address with Putin, “Russia has stood by India through time and has played a crucial role in India’s growth story…Russia has been an important supplier of defence hardware to India for decades.”

However, the S-400 is one of the world’s most advanced long-range air defence systems. China was the first nation to buy the S-400 missile system in 2014.

The US has hinted at tough sanctions against any nation that buys advanced military hardware from Russia. Under a new law-Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)—the US imposes sanctions on any country that has significant transactions with Iran, North Korea or Russia.

India had already indicated that it will go ahead with the purchase of S-400 deal notwithstanding the US sanctions. In this regard, Indian Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa has told media, “As and when the government approves it, delivery (of the missiles) will be in 24 months.”

Ignoring America’s sanctions over S-400 deal, Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat said: “India follows independent policy”

When President Putin reached New Delhi, a propaganda campaign had started against Pakistan by the Indian media. In this respect, under the caption, “Putin arrives in India today, Pak terror, S-400 missile deal on agenda”, India Today wrote on October 4, 2018: “Besides the missile deal, Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will discuss the issue of security challenges in the AfPak (Afghanistan-Pakistan) region and the threat of terrorism that emanates from Pakistan. The Modi administration has been engaged with Russia regarding the defence cooperation between Moscow and Islamabad and why is there a need to have such cooperation.”

Press Trust of India revealed on October 3, 2018: “India and Russia will hold a joint military exercise from November 18 to 28 [2018] in Uttar Pradesh, Russian authorities said Wednesday [October 3], ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi. The exercise–Indra-2018–will see participation of about 250 servicemen of motorised infantry units of Russia’s Eastern Military District (EMD), according to a statement by the EMD.”

Under the title, “Can India control Pak’s airspace with Russian S-400 missile defence systems? EurAsia Times wrote on October 4, this year: “India is fully prepared to buy the S-400 Missile Defense Systems from Russia…despite continued US pressure and persistence? Secondly what impact will the S-400 systems create on arch-rivals Pakistan?…In response to this question, a senior defence expert said “It is very worrisome for Pakistan. After the S-400 arrives, India can literally control the airspace of Pakistan, especially the bordering regions. The defence expert also stated that India started to procure weapons from the United States, and in response, defence relations between Pakistan and Russia gradually started to grow. India feared that Pakistan would also demand S-400 from Russia”.

As India is increasing her bonhomie with US, the pinned expectations with the visit of the President Putin was exaggerated in the backdrop that American President Trump had last month signed an executive order, paving the way for slapping crippling sanctions on countries and foreign entities and individuals violating the CAATSA.

In the same background, Indian agreement with Moscow for purchase of the latest defence equipment seems unrealistic and a political ploy of Modi’s government which shows that India is an opportunist ally.

Earlier to the visit of President Putin, some segments of the Indian media have also pointed out that Indian leadership might raise issue of Russia’s Pak approach.

It is notable that the signing of Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) between India and the USA was a watershed moment in defense cooperation between the two countries. The agreement approves the two militaries to share each other’s base for various operations including joint exercise, joint training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. The pact enhanced India’s military capability and now India can have access to America’s network of military bases having strategic locations.

In fact, extremist government of Modi is deceiving both the rival countries-Russia and the US by following strategy of fundamentalist Hindus-Chanakya (Say something else and do something else).

While indicating Indo-Russia relations, even some Indian media reports, including those of the Western countries have said that these ties exposed the “Indian duplicitous role”/ditching Russia by citing LEMOA/other agreements with the US and undue preferences for the US.

Regarding the Russia-India defence deal, Indian “The Economic Times” wrote on October 8, 2018: “S-400 deal gives U.S. a unique chance to spell out special relations with India…India’s decision to purchase the S-400 Triumf missile defence system from Russia has handed the US a unique strategic opportunity to distinguish India from China on their dealings with Russia: sanctions for Beijing, waiver for New Delhi. But will the US make this call? Already, some Washington lobbyists are pitching an even-handed application of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Sanctions were imposed on Chinese entities only last month for the S-400 deal. So how can US President Donald Trump make an exception for exactly the same ‘offence’ even if he has the authority to grant a waiver?”

Analysts opined that in the backdrop of growing Indo-US bonhomie and LEMOA etc, perception about India becoming a “Client State of US” was solidifying. Moreover, under the same syndrome, India was also drifting away from the Cold War ally Russia. As New Delhi is part of few regional and international alliances, having a strong Russian role, she badly needed to neutralize the perception with some activity to prove her independent status. In the same background, India re-engaged Russia by signing multi-billion dollar deal of S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

Apparently, there is no immediate response from the USA over Indo-Russia deal; however, the analysts feel that “American annoyance will be unleashed under “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)” to test India”.

As a matter of fact, India-US friendship is based upon mutual deceptions, as India is uncomfortable with America and the Americans are feeling that Indians are unreliable as partners.

It is mentionable that prior to Putin’s trip to India, the US on October 2, 2018 urged New Delhi to forgo its proposed deal to buy the S-400 missile defence system from Moscow, warning that the deal could attract American sanctions.

President Donald Trump has the power to waive these sanctions for specific countries and specific transactions, and US officials have repeatedly stated in the recent past that India should not expect an automatic waiver if it goes ahead with the purchase from Russia.

In this context, a State Department spokesperson told newspaper, “The Hindu” that this waiver might not be available to India and the S-400 deal falls in the category of sanctionable transactions…We urge all of our allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russia that would trigger sanctions under CAATSA. The Administration has indicated that a focus area for the implementation of CAATSA Section 231 is new or qualitative upgrades in capabilit–including the S-400 air and missile defense system…recently India has ordered defence equipment worth $18 billion from the US”.

Notably, during the Cold War era, India joined the Russian block and extracted maximum benefits from the former Soviet Union. But, after the disintegration of the former Soviet Union, gradually, New Delhi left the former Russia and started strengthening her relations with the US which emerged as the sole superpower. The main aim behind was also to extract maximum benefits from America.

It is of particular attention that during his first visit to New Delhi, on November 6, 2010. President Barack Obama announced the measures, America would take regarding removal of Indian space and defence companies from a restricted “entities list”, and supported Indian demand membership of four key global nuclear nonproliferation regimes.
And as part of the double standards in relation to India and Pakistan, America set aside the Indian poor record regarding the safety of nuclear weapons and related materials. Despite, Indian violations of various international agreements and its refusal to sign Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Washington signed a pact of nuclear civil technology with New Delhi in 2008. During American President Barack Obama’s visit to India, on January 25, 2016, the US and India announced a breakthrough on the pact which would allow American companies to supply New Delhi with civilian nuclear technology.

Especially, America is a potential military supplier to India. US also pressurized IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to grant a waiver to New Delhi for obtaining civil nuclear trade on larger scale.

In the pretext of countering China, Washington has continued favouring India’s programme of advancement and modernization of nuclear weapons. America supports Indian nuclear programme as part of anti-China and anti-Pakistan approach. Beijing is apprehensive about the emerging threat, as during the last visit of Obama to New Delhi, the intent of President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Modi was quite clear, while mentioning about free sea lanes and air passages in the South China Sea. President Trump is also pursuing the policy of his predecessor in this respect, as in the recent past, during his meeting with Prime Minister Modi, he showed similar approach.

Apart from obtaining atomic weapons from the US and other Western countries, New Delhi is, clandestinely, importing nuclear arms, components and submarines from Israel. In this connection, Zionist-led Indo-Israeli secret diplomacy could be assessed from the interview of Israel’s ambassador to India, Mark Sofer, published in the Indian weekly Outlook on February 18, 2008. Regarding India’s defense arrangements with Tel Aviv, Sofer had surprisingly revealed, “We do have a defense relationship with India, and “with all due respect, the secret part will remain a secret.”

It is worth-mentioning that like Americans, during Putin’s trip of New Delhi, Indian media also tried to distort the image of Pakistan in the eyes of Russians by reviving the old blame game regarding cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan. But, Russian President paid no attention.

Meanwhile, in the recent past, after the visit of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Islamabad and visit of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to America, positive change has occurred between the strained relations of the US and Pakistan. Now, ties between the two countries are improving. Positive change in Pak-US relationship has resulted into positive change between Afghan-Pakistan ties. Therefore, Kabul has re-opened Pakistan consulate in Jalalabad. These developments have also irritated India.

Besides, Pakistan has been further strengthening its relations with China, after signing the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has also inclined towards the Russian Federation which also needs the latter. Particularly, the US-led secret strategy which is part of Zionist-led American double game compelled Pakistan to fortify its relations with Russia.
In this respect, an agreement has been signed on August 7, this year between Pakistan and Russia for training of Pakistani troops in Russia, decided at culmination of first meeting of joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC) in Islamabad. Pakistan’s defence ties with Moscow are growing strong with each passing day and this pact has opened new avenues of cooperation between the two countries. A desire from both sides has already been seen in the near past in boosting economic and political relations. Obviously, these moves are seen with suspicion by the US and India, including Israel.

As regards Pak-Russian ties, in this connection, Pakistan’s Army chief Gen. Javed Bajwa arrived in Russia for two-day visit on April 24, 2018. It was General Bajwa’s first visit to Russia.

The statement of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said, “Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in Russia…where he met with Commander of Russian Federation Ground Forces Colonel General Oleg Salyukov at the Kremlin Palace…During the meeting, the Russian ground forces commander acknowledged achievements of Pakistan Army in fight against terrorism and contributions for regional peace and stability. Colonel General Salyukov said that Pakistan is a geo-strategically important country and Russia is keen to expand its existing bilateral military-to-military cooperation…The COAS thanked the Russian commander and said that Pakistan reciprocates desire of enhanced bilateral military engagements. General Bajwa said that Russia has recently played a positive role to help resolve complex situations in the region.”

During the meetings between the top military and security leadership of the two countries, Pakistan and Russia reaffirmed their commitment to intensify and expand bilateral military cooperation.

The army chief’s trip was preceded by the visit of National Security Adviser retired Lt. Gen. Nasser Janjua to Russia. His meeting with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev resulted in an understanding that the security cooperation between the two countries needed a boost.

Russia has offered Pakistan counter-terrorism equipments. The package includes 10 MI-17 helicopters of unarmed configuration. When Russian military Chief Col-Gen. Alexander Postnikov visited Pakistan in May 2011, he had discussed with the former Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani—the possibility of expanding defence ties by holding joint military exercises, exchanging trainees and trainers and selling and buying weapons. Moscow has also offered to sell Sukhoi Superjet 100, a modern aircraft with a capacity of up to 95 passengers, while upgradation of Pakistan Steel Mills by Russia is being finalized. In the recent past, it was the first time that joint military exercises were conducted between the two countries in Pakistan.

Islamabad, Moscow and Beijing share common opinion that the presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan failed to restore stability in that war-torn country.

On September 27, this year, Pakistan and Russia signed a historic $10 billion offshore gas pipeline agreement in Moscow. The project will help Russia cement its place in the energy market of Pakistan. Under the agreement, Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS), a state-owned Pakistani company, will collaborate with Russia’s energy giant Gazprom, to execute the mega project. Pakistan will import some 500 million to 1 billion cubic foot of gas from Russia daily, which would be transported via sea link. The pipeline will connect Pakistan and Russia and act as an energy corridor between the two countries. After the agreement, Islamabad will gain access to the Russian market in order to boost its overall exports which remained stagnant during five-year tenure of the previous government.

A report quoted SGS Managing Director Mobin Saulat as saying that the, “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has now entered the industrialization phase and needs gas for duty and tax-free Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The offshore gas pipeline will meet energy needs of industries being set up in the economic zones along CPEC route.”

These projects are being termed the game changer for Pakistan, as they will not only lead to regional connectivity, but will also meet growing energy needs of the country.

These developments show that Russia could also supply Pakistan-the S-400 missile system, if requested by Islamabad.

Undoubtedly, we can conclude that India is the most opportunity ally of Russia and the US. But, such opportunism will backfire on New Delhi in the near future.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations


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