Washington Exaggerates Modi’s Comments to Putin on Ukraine
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher
While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his concern to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the special military operation in Ukraine, India still has not capitulated to Western pressure to condemn Russia’s actions. This has not stopped Washington and Western media from claiming that a potential rift is emerging between Moscow and New Delhi.
According to French newspaper Le Monde, despite pressure from the West, India has not condemned the Russian operation and only asked for the warring parties to return to the negotiation table. The newspaper claimed that the situation was especially evident when Modi went to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit shortly after receiving the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, with whom he discussed the creation of a cooperation force to face China in the Indo-Pacific region.
According to the outlet, India demonstrated its “game of paradoxes”, with one foot in the West and the other in Russia, indicating that the West failed to bring the Indians to its side and push them to impose sanctions against the Russians. The newspaper also pointed out that the West expected the Russian military operation in Ukraine to drive India away from Russia, but that did not happen.
In fact, India continues to buy weapons and oil from Moscow, at affordable prices, with Russia replacing Saudi Arabia as its main oil supplier. The Indian prime minister shows that his country has adopted a multi-alliance strategy, especially evident now as India has recently participated in the Vostok-2022 military exercises alongside Russia and China, as well as joint exercises with the US in the Himalayas.
According to the newspaper, “playing both sides” and participating in military exercises with Russia, India literally humiliates the West, showing that it is far from a close ally.
“The Europeans and the Americans had hoped, with the war in Ukraine, it would convince Narendra Modi to distance himself from Russia, his main arms supplier and historical ally,” added the Le Monde article.
India and Russia, as historical allies, is a fact that the West refuses to acknowledge. The West does not even self-reflect on the reason why India and Russia have such close relations. Traditionally, the West has favoured Pakistan, even to the point of funding and emboldening radical Islamists, all for the sake of opposing the Soviet Union in Central Asia. This legacy though has meant continued problems of radical Islam in India too, as well as endless terrorist attacks, all emanating from Pakistan.
In addition, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted on September 14 that he conveyed to his US counterpart Lloyd Austin that New Delhi is concerned about the American decision to provide an equipment package for Pakistan’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets.
The US State Department permitted on September 7 the potential sale of F-16 fighter jet parts to Pakistan in a deal worth $450 million. Washington believes that it “will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by allowing Pakistan to retain interoperability with US and partner forces in ongoing counter-terrorism efforts and in preparation for future contingency operations”.
Pakistan, which like India has nuclear weapons, relies heavily on Chinese-made jets, but the F-16s remain the most effective and advanced in its fleet. India and Pakistan are permanently locked in tensions due to the Kashmir region, and historically the West has always backed Islamabad, thus pushing New Delhi to Moscow.
However, it was believed that with India joining the anti-China QUAD formation with Australia, Japan and the United States, would be fully absorbed itself into Washington’s interests. This was very quickly disproven as India has thus far resisted all coercion and attempts to condemn and sanction Russia. This has not stopped Western media from exaggerating a potential India-Russia split after Modi told Putin that “now is not the era for war” when they met on the sidelines of the SCO.
But while Western media allude that a rift is occurring, New Delhi is preparing to launch trade in rupees with Russia.
“The State Bank of India has come forward for facilitating trade in rupees with Russia and some other banks have also shown interest,” the head of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations A. Shaktivel told reporters. He added that India already has “a good rupee payment mechanism in Iran, so the same thing will happen [with Russia].”
This hardly suggests that New Delhi and Moscow are going down the path of a potential break. In fact, Putin even acknowledged Modi’s “concern” and expressed his hope that the conflict would end soon.
None-the-less, to the disappointment of the West, India continues its “game of paradoxes”, as Le Monde termed it, maintaining a balance with Russia and the West, so long as it continues serving New Delhi’s best interests.
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