The Russian leader’s wholehearted defence of China’s Belt & Road Initiative at last week’s yearly forum on this global series of mega projects stands in stark contrast to the position of India’s Prime Minister, thus reinforcing the notion that Putin and Modi are at serious odds with one another when it comes to BRI irrespective of their Great Powers’ mutually beneficial and highly lucrative transactional relationship with one another.
President Putin’s press conference at last week’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) Forum in Beijing was a well-articulated masterclass in defence of this global series of megaprojects that has come under increasingly sharp criticism from China’s geopolitical rivals.
One of the most outspoken countries vehemently opposed to BRI is India because of its minimalist approach to the Kashmir Conflict by which it claims the entirety of the global pivot state of Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region through which the Silk Road’s flagship investment of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) traverses.
India is also tacitly opposed to BRI in principle because it understands that this is the vehicle for the Chinese-driven Multipolar World Order to spread across the planet, a scenario that decision-makers in New Delhi deeply fear because they’re afraid that it’ll relegate their country to become “junior partner” of the People’s Republic.
This, in turn, has made them all the more receptive to the US’ manipulatively tantalising promises that a military-strategic partnership with America is the best way to promote India’s 21st-century interests, an emerging development which is actually destabilising Eurasia to Washington’s divide-and-rule gain.
That explains why Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister called out the US for using India to “contain” China at the end of last year and also why Foreign Minister Lavrov said that his country regards the “Indo-Pacific Region” nomenclature that New Delhi is so fond of as an “artificially imposed” pro-American concept.
Furthermore, awareness of these two interconnected policy positions by Russia allows one to better understand the “balancing” modalities of Moscow’s “Return to South Asia“, which is the diversification of this Great Power’s previous regional strategic dependence on India and its recent embrace of Pakistan as described in detail by Valdai Club programme director Oleg Barabanov in his visionary piece earlier this year about “Russia and the Search for Balance Between India and Pakistan“.
Despite the dynamics of Russia and India gradually moving closer to one another’s geopolitical adversaries of the US and China & Pakistan respectively, the Russian-Indian Strategic Partnership is still mutually beneficial and highly lucrative for both even if it’s become mostly transactional in recent years as a result of these developments.
BRI Might Break the Russian-Indian Bond
Still, both Great Powers’ polar opposite approaches to BRI are a serious cause for concern since they hold with it the possibility that this growing strategic divergence will inevitably lead to the worsening of their relations in the future, especially in the event that India decides to politicise what might by then be Russia’s de-facto participation in its South Asian component through N-CPEC+.
After all, President Putin declared during his keynote speech at last week’s event that Russia will merge its Eurasian Economic Union integration platform with China’s much larger BRI one, with the unstated implication being that Moscow will ultimately cooperate in some capacity or another with BRI’s flagship investment of CPEC, thus leading to a “strategic security dilemma” with its decades-long Indian partner that is obsessively opposed to that project.
It might only a matter of time before this fault line provokes problems in the Russian, Indian Strategic Partnership, especially after President Putin’s wholehearted defence of BRI last week put him at serious odds with Modi.
Putin is a True Believer in BRI
To accentuate that point, the analysis will close with a republication of President Putin’s enthusiastically supportive remarks on BRI that he made in response to a loaded question doubting its benefits for Russia, proving that the Russian President is a true believer in everything that BRI stands for.
And that he’s therefore bound to clash with the Indian Prime Minister whose views on this issue are the complete opposite of his own even if the two keep their heated disagreements behind closed doors in order to continue milking their countries’ mutually beneficial and highly lucrative transactional relationship with one another.