Russia makes geopolitical pivot to Asia

India walking a fine line

India’s unapologetic purchase of discounted Russian crude oil is one of the most notable aspects of the country’s relationship with Russia.

Additionally, Moscow has continued to be a major arms supplier for India. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia supplied 65% of India’s weapons purchases of more than $60 billion over the last two decades.

But now India ― one of the world’s biggest arms importers ― is slowly pivoting West. It’s a step New Delhi is taking carefully, in order to not push Russia closer to China, since Moscow and Beijing growing closer could be bad for India, according to Menon.

Considering the existing border tensions between India and China, “if war breaks out between them, that will put Russia in a tough position,” he said. “It would be forced to choose between two of its friends.”

And if that came to be, Menon said, Moscow would likely choose Beijing, or try to delay the choice as much as possible.

“China has lot more to offer to Russia than India,” he said.

Russia: Neither West nor East

Be it China or India, Menon said it’s likely Putin will “further strengthen ties with Eastern powers.”

Chigadaev pointed out, however, that “Russia’s culture, religion, and history are more closely connected to Europe.”

Russia, according to Chigadaev, doesn’t see itself as fully belonging to either the West or to a triangle with India and China.

“We are not Europe,” he said, referring to Russia’s self-image. “We are not a part of the West. We are not a part of the East. We are the center.”

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