Table of Contents
Context of the Article: The triangular dynamic between the US, Russia and China has long been the principal factor shaping independent India’s geopolitics.
- Changing dynamics: The new China and Russia alliance and the Russian aggression towards Ukraine, and the deepening confrontation between the West and Russia-China are compelling India to recalibrate its international relations.
- The New Alliance: Till 2010s, both Moscow and Beijing sought a productive relationship with the US. Russia’s accumulating grievances against the West and China’s new ambition to replace the US as Asia’s dominant power has brought them much closer now.
- It is reasonable to presume that the Sino-Russian alliance added to Moscow’s confidence in risking a confrontation with the West in Europe.
- Putin’s victory in Europe would have had a dramatic impact on Asia too. It would have reinforced the sentiment that the US is in terminal decline, weakened US alliances in Asia, and boosted China’s ambition to radically reshape its periphery.
- If Putin had successfully conquered Ukraine, Xi’s path to unification with Taiwan through the use of force or mere coercive diplomacy might have eased.
How is the Sino-Russian Alliance Re-Shaping the World?
- Resurrection of Western unity: Instead of delivering a final blow to the US primacy in the international system, Putin and Xi have facilitated the resurrection of Western unity under American leadership.
- In Europe, Putin’s war has helped the US galvanise and expand NATO. The Russian invasion has also triggered the fear of Chinese territorial expansionism in Asia. This led to the strengthening of US bilateral alliances with Australia and Japan.
- Rise of reluctant and pacifist powers: Sino-Russian alliance and the Ukraine war have seen two reluctant and pacifist powers — Germany and Japan — join the battle against Moscow and Beijing.
- Japan and Germany happen to be the world’s third and fourth largest economies and their mobilisation significantly alters the so-called “correlation of forces” between the West and the Moscow-Beijing axis.
- Indo–Pacific balance of power: Russia and China could dominate Eurasia through an alliance, and hence Washington is doing something similar to bring its alliances and partnerships in Europe and Asia closer.
- Leaders of America’s Asian allies attended the NATO summit for the first time in Madrid. NATO, in turn, has promised to take a greater interest in shaping the Indo-Pacific balance of power.
- Future of Sino Russian Alliance: The poor Russian strategic performance may have diminished Putin’s standing with Xi and complicated China’s plans, but Beijing is unlikely to abandon Moscow.
- A weakened Putin will remain a valuable asset for Xi even as Beijing seeks to blunt some of the new Western hostility to China.
What are the Possible Implications on India?
- Security challenges: The Sino-Russian alliance puts India in a terrible position: China can ramp up the military pressure on the disputed border with India; Delhi depends on Russian military supplies to cope with the PLA challenge; and Moscow is now a junior partner to Beijing.
- Dependence on Russian arms has severely constrained India’s position on Ukraine and cast a shadow over Delhi’s engagement with Europe and the US.
- Three decades ago, India turned to Russia and China to promote a multi-polar world amidst a unipolar moment dominated by the US.
- As it faced the prospect of a unipolar Asia dominated by a rising and assertive China, Delhi has turned to the US and its allies to restore the regional balance of power.
- The transition, however, has at once become more urgent and complicated by the new Sino-Russian alliance and President Putin’s war against Ukraine.