It is the first time after 1971 when Russia has to face such a difficulty to choose between India and China.
But as we know India and China have already fought a war in 1962 but during that time India and the Soviet Union didn’t have any treaty of friendship. So there was no action taken by Russia in favor of anyone. But now as the tensions between India and China rise due to border conflict in Galwan Valley Russia is facing a very big challenge of whether to support China or support India.
Russia cannot directly give it support to either of the countries because China is a very big economic partner with Russia and going against it will cause a very big impact on the Russian economy. On the other hand, India is the biggest arms exporter and the oldest & most loyal friend of Russia who helped it in its entire difficult situation and also truthful in this conflict.
The current state of relations between India and Russia
India has been using all its defence equipment like tanks, aircraft, Ships, Submarines, guns, missiles, and artilleries made by Russia. India is also the biggest arms importer of Russia. As most of the Russian economy is based on its arms sector so India adds very big revenue to the Russian economy.
On the other hand, China is also an importer of Russian defence products but not as big as India. Rather China supports Russia in various development projects and also provides economic aid to Russia. So Russia cannot favor any one country making other disappoint. So Russia has to maintain a balance between both India and China.
Beginning of Indo-Russian Ties
Russian Indian relationship started during the Soviet era of 1971. This was the year when Bangladesh has been created from East Pakistan. During the war of 1971, India stood against the Pakistani Army genocide of Bengali people in East Pakistan and helped the East Pakistani people to get independence from West Pakistan. This was the war when Pakistan on the verge of defeat asks the help of China and America.
During that time the Indian President late Smt Indira Gandhi visited America and asked the American president to not to engage in the war between India and Pakistan. But America due to its interest in Afghanistan and conflict with Soviet helped Pakistan still knowing the truth about the Pakistanis cruel genocide in its East Pakistan province.
The Americans even ask the UK for help in starting a war against India. Even Sri Lanka was taken into account, which helped the Pakistani Navy and Air Force to refuel and use a temporary base against India.
So India was surrounded by enemies from all its borders. In west from Pakistan, In North from China, In South from Sri Lanka along with two of the superpowers USA and UK. So that was the time when India was helpless and on the verge of getting destroyed by America. The American ambassador in China visited President Soong Ching-ling and asked the Chinese army to launch their attack from the northern borders.
America has launched its naval fleet towards India also to be joined by the British Navy to attack India. During that, time the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union was at its peak. So India has no other option than asking help from the biggest enemy of America and European countries that is the Soviet Union. Suddenly India signed an agreement of the Indo-Soviet treaty of friendship and cooperation. After signing this agreement Soviets suddenly dispatched there all the naval fleets near the Pacific and the Indian Ocean to the Indian subcontinent.
So when the British and US Navy arrives at the coast of India then the presence of Soviet nuclear submarines and naval fleet forced them to change their path.
On the second hand, the Soviets also warned China that any attack on India by the Chinese troops will force Russia to have a large-scale attack on China from its Northern borders. This changed the act of the war and India received a big victory against Pakistan. So from these days Russia and India became the best friend who helped each other in many circumstances despite opposition from other countries.
Love Between India and Russia
During the USA and USSR conflict in Afghanistan India was the only country that supported the actions of the Soviet Union and criticized America due to which India has to also suffer from several sanctions on the international level.
Russia and France were the only countries of the UN council who supported India after its first nuclear test in 1974. Similarly, India has continued its trade with Russia even Russia is suffering from various international sanctions from the international community.
Russia and China relations
Russia has also supported China from its Soviet days. Russian never had a very close relationship with China but due to fear of U.S intervention in China, Russia maintained a good relationship to keep its enemy far from its reach. Russia has very good military ties up with both India and China and Russia sells all its weapons to both these countries.
There was a border conflict between Russia and China in September 1969 when the Chinese army ambushed the Russian patrolling party and tried to conquer the Russian territory which raised a mini-war between both these countries. Russia understood the intentions and nature of Chinese army but due to the safety of its own country from the USA and continuous foreign investment by China Russia still continues to maintain a good relationship with China. Even today when all the countries are standing against China due to its expansionism policy and its spread of Corona Virus Russia continues to support China.
China Rise as a Military Super Power
During 1960 China was not a very big military superpower but after the friendship with the Soviet Union, China has started its military build-up by reverse-engineering Russian technologies.
Today China’s all frontline defence equipment is a copy of Russian defence products which has been made by reverse engineering. China got investment in its country from all over the world due to its cheap labor and cheap production cost. This attracted companies from all over the world to invest and open their manufacturing sector in China. This increased Chinese GDP and Foreign reserves at a rapid rate. This gave China lots of money in investing in its Defence sector.
Chinese fifth-generation fighter J-20 is a copy of Russian Sukhoi Su-35. Chinese Attack helicopter Z-10 is also a copy of Russian Mi-24. China also uses a wide number of Russian Tanks and Submarines just like India. Even the Chinese Missile programs are based on Russian technology. China only buys a few Russian defence and arms products and reverse engineers it and starts its own production.
They also sell these arms to other countries at a cheaper price than Russia which leads to a great loss for the Russian arms Industry. Due to this Russia has never been happy with China but due to its own economic conditions and China’s aid, Russia has to bear this. But India never tried to cheat Russia like China and helped the Russian arms sector to grow.
After the Chinese claim on the Russian port city of Vladivostok in July 2020, the relation between Russia and China has become worse. Russia has increased its troops and military buildup in that region. Russia has also deployed its tanks and aircraft near Vladivostok which has increased tensions from both sides.
Power Balance between India and China
In reality, India values more to Russia than China. But Russia fears that if it will support India then China may pull back its hand from the development and economic support it gives to Russia. Recent Russian action didn’t clear Russia’s intentions. Russia has approved India to sell BrahMos missile even knowing that India will sell this Missile to China’s rival countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines which shows that Russia supports India. Although Russia has stopped the delivery of S-400 missile defence system to China and maintaining its pledge to deliver the same system to India on the given date. Russian this action has weakened the Chinese defence.
On the other hand, Russia has supported China by giving its support on the UN Security Council when the U.S and other countries alleged China of spreading Corona Virus. Russia also signed an Oil deal with China to provide oil for over 25 years. There is also some news which states that Russia is going to sign a deal with China regarding scientific and technological innovation in 2020. Russia has also signed a military alliance with China.
India and China in Vladivostok(Russia)
As we know that there is lots of natural resource in the Arctic region and every country near this region wants to extract those resources and take advantage. In 2013 Russia has also granted India the status of an observer in the Arctic Region. More than 60% of the Arctic Region belongs to Russia but due to lack of foreign reserve and investment Russia cannot fully explore and exploit the abundant resources of this region.
On the other hand, the European Union along with the U.S has started its exploration in this region. So due to fear of losing its position in the region Russia needed a partner that can invest and explore this area. China with a big economy was the first choice for Russia so they welcomed Chinese investment but due to Chinese expansionism and they also invited India to balance the power. Since India is the oldest and biggest allay of Russia so India was invited to counter China if they try to overthrow Russia from this region.
For a few months, there are lots of tensions rising between China and Russia. China has been copying Russian technology to build its Aircrafts and Missiles for decades. But now Russia is not in a mood to give up China when it claimed the Russian territory. China claimed the Russian port city Vladivostok so that it could operate its Arctic mission smoothly. Now Russia is willing to throw China from this project and invite India to even build its naval base to counter any other Chinese threat. India and Russia are going to sign Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support-ARLS soon.
India moving away from Russia
Recently India has decided not to purchase all its military equipment from Russia because India and China both are using Russian technology so in the act of War India will not have any technological advantage over China.
So now India has started its own arms production and also buying various equipment from other countries like Apache from the USA, Rafael from France, and missile defence system from Israel.
Russia response on India as a part of QUAD
Now India has also joined QUAD which is a military alliance against China. Except for India, the other members of the QUAD are rivals of Russia. Chinese officials think that India’s involvement in QUAD will have a great impact on Indo-Russia relations which will take India apart from Russian support. But Russia has proved this wrong by increasing the delivery of orders of Indian arms after the formation of QUAD. Russia has shown that India is the greatest friend and it will not leave India aside despite India coalition with Russian Rivals.
At first, when there was no involvement of India in the QUAD formation Russia looked it very negatively and opposed its formation and intentions. But when India was involved in QUAD Russia never asked India to step back and also supported it with an open heart. Russian knows that India’s involvement in any of the aligned groups will not lead to any action taken against Russia. Russia has full faith in India that any action taken against Russia will lead India’s opposition to that decision.
India handling two Super Powers
As we know that there are only two types of countries in the world- one who supports Russia and others who supports the USA. The countries which are aligned with the USA have defence or military pact with the U.S., which Russia thinks to be dangerous for them. On the other hand, the countries that support Russia have never sought help from the USA or it aligns nation to not disappoint Russia. But India is the only country in the world that handles two superpowers. India is supported by both Russia and the USA in all defence, economic and international forums.
Importance of India for U.S.A and Russia
India is strategically very important for both Russia and the USA. India’s importance for the U.S can be understood by the fact that when Iran was sanctioned due to its nuclear program then India along with China was the only country that has been granted to buy the Iranian oil. We know that the USA always fear Russian arms and put sanctions on the countries which buy it.
Recently the USA has put sanctions on Iran for buying the Russian S-400 defence system and wishes to do the same for Turkey for buying S-400. But there were no sanctions on India when India made the same deal with Russia. The USA has always looked after its decisions which do not let India fall into to fully Russian hands and make India the enemy of America. Similarly, Now the European Union also thinks differently about India and accepts India as the most important strategic partner.
India making Peace between U.S.A and Russia
India has been trusted by both USA and Russia for decades. This is the only reason Russia has never being tensed about the increasing U.S and India’s relations. Russia is also ok about the India and USA military pact. Further India is also going to sign a similar pact with Russia.
After signing the pact with Russia India will become the only country in the world that will have such a defence agreement and access to the military base of both USA and Russia. Indian Military base will also be the first which will have the presence of both the U.S and Russian military which may lower the tensions between the USA and Russia in the future.
So, I don’t think Russia will think to break the ties with India due to China and if there is even a 1% off chance then it will have no impact on India but Russia will lose a very big Ally nation.
In the course, the Russian economy and its arms industry will also collapse due to losing a very important partner which will also give China the opportunity to raise its expansionism policy towards Russian territory which is currently prevented by Indian pressure from the South. Also by losing India, the Russian power will be almost half and it could not withstand against the USA and its allies nation.