The two extreme blocs in the world did everything possible to pull India into their respective camps. Yet, India did a commendable job of walking the diplomatic tightrope. Foreign Minister Dr. S Jaishankar has stated on several occasions that India does not believe in terminology like “ally,” which is more of a western construct. Instead, India pursues a more pragmatic, issue-based partnership with other like-minded countries. This is also reflected in the number of multilateral forums India has joined in the recent past.
However, making our sovereign choices also depends on the choices of other major players like the US, Russia, and China, led by a delusional despot. There has been much discussion about the RIC (Russia-India-China) being the partnership of the century. This can completely decimate Western hegemony throughout the world.
But as I said earlier, this depends on the choices of other players as well. The current regime in China is not run by a statesman. He can’t give up on the expansionist ideas and resist attempting misadventures on the India-China border. Rather, China is dictated by a megalomaniac trying to destroy the world—in one way or another. This completely takes the RIC partnership out of the picture.
Now, it is for us to decipher what other major powers are doing vis-à-vis the Indian geopolitical context. For that, we will analyse the recent moves undertaken by the US, Russia, China, and a host of other nations. We will also contemplate on the fact that can we rely on partnerships that were forged earlier considering the geopolitical realities of the past?
The notional belief
Russia, the country with the largest landmass, has been punching significantly above its economic weight on the global stage. It occupies a strategic position both geographically and geopolitically. This is why it dictates issues, especially in its backyard. Russia has vast untapped resources, particularly in its far east, ranging from oil, coal, and natural gas to fertilisers. It is a popular belief that these abundant resources can fulfil China’s ever-growing energy requirements.
Apart from its resource potential, Russia is said to have military prowess that gives it significant leverage in the global arena. However, on account of western sanctions, Russia has limited buyers at this point in time. Moreover, its intense engagement in the Ukrainian theatre has significantly eroded its geopolitical clout on several other matters.
China, on the other hand, was believed to have the economic might that can consequently turn into alarming military might. It has significant reserves of natural resources such as coal, iron ore, and rare earth minerals. Additionally, China has strong demographics and has become a hub for manufacturing and international trade. It has everything that the Russian bear can hope for, making the duo perfect for any other kind of partnership.
However, this earlier notional belief has suffered a massive jolt. Russians, who were previously thought to have superior military capabilities, are said to have sought military assistance from China- a nation which was only considered to have the edge in the economic sphere. This recent turn of events is an alarming signal, one that forces us to reconsider our current world view.
China is sending “lethal weapons” to Russia
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently made a shocking claim while speaking to a private news channel. He categorically stated that the Chinese firms were already supplying “non-lethal support” to Moscow. Going further, he warned that the new intel indicated that China could now also provide “lethal support” to Moscow.
US Secretary of State Mr Blinken highlighted the obvious fact about China. He stated that, of course, in China, there’s really no distinction between private companies and the Chinese government. He added that such escalation would have “serious consequences” for China. Apparently, he made these alarming remarks after his recent meeting with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, at the Munich Security Conference.
Blinken said, “To date, we have seen Chinese companies… provide non-lethal support to Russia for use in Ukraine. The concern that we have now is based on information we have that they’re considering providing lethal support.”
Notably, the US had earlier sanctioned a Chinese company. The US administration alleged that the firm was providing satellite imagery of Ukraine to the mercenary Wagner Group. This group is claimed to have supplied thousands of fighters to the Russian side.
However, Beijing was quick to reject this claim made by the US administration. Beijing snubbed this claim as being full of falsehood and accused the US of spreading lies. When asked about these allegations of providing weapons to Russia, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin vehemently rejected them.
He stated that “China will never accept the US pointing fingers at Sino-Russian relations or even coercing us.” Going further, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, Wang, launched a counteroffensive against the US on the same matter.
Wang said, “It is the United States and not China that is endlessly shipping weapons to the battlefield. We urge the United States to earnestly reflect on its own actions and do more to alleviate the situation, promote peace and dialogue, and stop shifting blame and spreading false information.”
Separating fact from fiction: exploring a controversial claim
The current Russia-Ukraine war has dragged on for far too long, with both sides running out of heavy weaponry. Until the Ukraine government keeps playing fiddle to the US-led military industrial complex, the western bloc will not allow joker Zelenskyy to strike a peace deal with Russia. Consequently, they will keep milking profit from the grief and blood of Ukraine and Russia.
However, the aggressive military posture and larger world view of the Russian President doesn’t give off ominous signs as well. There is a rational fear that Russia may open a new front either parallel to the current ongoing war or after it. It can be against Moldova, Poland, and others. The reason is that Russia has always resisted the eastward expansion of NATO.
Whether that happens or not, even if the current Ukraine-Russia war drags any further, Russia too requires heavy weaponry on a war footing that matches the speed of the warmongering western Military Industrial Complex. This will sooner or later require the overt or covert assistance of like-minded partners, and India won’t be the one fueling this endless rage of bloodshed.
That leaves nations like Iran, Belarus, and any other western crusaders, but they lack the firepower to match the requirements of this colossal war of ego, profiteering, dominance, and the foolhardiness to erase the existence of the other side.
The use of cheap Iranian drones in the current war is an example of this. And Belarus has been providing support in every manner possible. This spiralling war has taken and will continue to take Russia into Chinese orbit. The ideological pull is such that Russia can hardly escape from this geopolitical influence of the Chinese dragon.
Moreover, the recent power-pact developments emphasise that the current Ukraine-Russia war will be a prolonged one. It is possible that it may turn into a hotbed for perpetual war like the one on the Korean Peninsula or between India and Pakistan. These developments also underscore the above points we have raised in this article.
US President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine. With this, the US has extended unconditional support to Ukraine for as long as the war may continue. Consequently, more weapons will be pumped in to fuel this war.
This visit by US President Biden was followed by the public address by Russian President Putin. He, too, hinted that the war would continue. The distrust between the two sides can be gauged from the fact that Russia has suspended the only treaty currently in place between the US and Russia to stop nuclear proliferation. Russia has, for the time being, suspended the START II treaty.
Additionally, the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, is slated to visit Russia. Reports claim that he may have either of these two objectives: first, to extend support to Russia by committing to supply lethal weapons to Russia. Second, China may seek support from Russia and launch a military assault on Taiwan in the near future.
The point of highlighting these developments in the US, Russia, and China is that they clearly indicate that the war is far from over. It is engulfing more and more players, and the geopolitical equations are solidifying rather than easing up as we would have liked.
Thus, while reminiscing about past ties, we can’t jeopardise our long-term geopolitical interests and hamper our sovereignty and security. The more Russia enters the Chinese orbit, the faster the process of our decoupling from our overdependence on Russian weaponry has to be. With every such move of unpredictablility, the need for Atma Nirbhar Bharat aggravates further and furthermore.
India can no longer afford to import weaponry and expect that these changing geopolitical dynamics will not hamper our interests. The diplomatic tightrope is already strained enough and is on the verge of breaking. It is for us to build a robust indigenous defence sector and, till then, make every effort possible so that the Russian bear doesn’t dance to the tunes of Chinese puppeteers.
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