For the last 70 years India and Russia have remained friends supporting each other, signing lucrative military deals and deepening their bilateral relations on international diplomatic forums. But since 2016 their bilateral relations have not been on smooth keels.
It is pertinent to discuss here that it is the global relations because of which Russia is losing interests in its long term ally and inclined towards Pakistan. According to many observers Russia is very keen about foreign relations on long-term basis.
As Russia is well aware about China-Pakistan long term relations and never intended to hurt its partners, so after the West’s imposed sanctions after the Crimea’s annexation, Russia was seeking strategic partners and the reproached towards China.
Furthermore, India’s new generation is more attractive for US. According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, there are 70% Indians looking favorably US and 43% were looking Russia who was supporting India both militarily and diplomatically since last 70 years. According to same survey, there are 8% Indians look negatively US and 16% were negative towards Russia. so it can be said that Russia is losing its trust-worthiness in India despite of the fact that Russia is continue to be the key supplier of military weapons to India.
However, Putin is the master mind of long term plans in relations with other countries, eventually he moved towards the favorable relations with Pakistan. The equation of Russia’s relations with South Asian region reveals that where on one side Pakistan is India’s traditional rival and trust worthy friend of China, and the rapprochement of Russia towards China with the bonus factor of China’s opposition to US and its global views gives Pakistan more strategic importance.
Russia also supported Pakistan on the last BRIC’s Summit in Goa in the matter of India’s allegations of sponsored terrorism. Recent examples of Russia-Pakistan are 3 joint military drills since 2014; 2 naval drills (Arabian Monsoon 2014 and Arabian Monsoon 2015) and one is Druzbha 2016 and one is expected in 2017. Both Russia and Pakistan are reportedly holding negotiations on the purchase of Russian S-35 war- planes. Last year, Pakistan bought four Mi-35 helicopter gunships from Russia and in the 12 months, Pakistani army officials have visited Russia on a regular basis searching for new military deals.
As a result, Russian arms manufacturers are persistently increasing their reach to sell their military equipment. And Pakistan is the seventh importer of defense equipment.
Regarding these developments, India has serious concerns as India’s ambassador to Russia, Pankaj Saran, said, “Russia’s military cooperation with Pakistan which is a State that sponsors and practices terrorism as a matter of State policy is a wrong approach and it will only create further problems.”
Simultaneously India must be careful about such statements as India’s deliberations for the purchase of Russian S-400, stealth frigates and second nuclear submarine from the latter. On the other side, India does not want to lose Russia’s new military weapons as it is reportedly intended to pay a whopping $5 billion to get Russia’s revolutionary S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system which is one of the most advanced antimissile systems in the whole world. It is a true time to say that Pakistan is winning a lot having two allies Russia and China both simultaneously. However Russia and China are giving some prospects to Pakistan of becoming stronger nation. in the South Asia’s geostrategic fulcrum China’s is keen towards Russia’s joining in the recent significant development of China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Li Xing has written that, “Russia’s participation in the CPEC, including the use of the Gwadar Port, could give a boost to Sino-Russian cooperation and be a demonstration project of One Belt and One Road (OBOR) that will enhance future multinational cooperation”.
According to some observers China’s eagerness for Russia’s joining in CPEC is merely to appease or calm India which is openly opposing CPEC claiming that it passes through their held or occupied territories. As CPEC is part of China’s vision for the next era of globalization and help its export and investment engines run for years in coming future. On international forum China has openly opposed India’s deliberations in getting participation in Nuclear Supplier Group. One could be optimistic that Russia could play a convincing role in smoothing India-Pakistan bilateral relations that would be the catalyst for the markets in the region.
In the recent developments Pakistan has approved a Russian interest for using the Gwadar Port, for its exports and on the other side media reports were swirling that Russia planned to merge the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with the CPEC.
In nutshell, the contemporary international political scenario depicts that the whole realignment of global powers in South Asia is favorable for Pakistan if Pakistan would be well aware of its economic, military and fiscal policies in coming future to become the influential and integral part of the upcoming multi-polar new world order with all these developments otherwise it would be a catastrophe for Pakistan if it would be grasped in the major powers’ power politics.
*Asia Maqsood is Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute Islamabad.